Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah criticized the length and reading time of the $1.7 trillion government omnibus spending bill congressional leaders unveiled on Tuesday.
“This monstrous spending bill comes to 4,155 pages,” the conservative senator wrote in a Tuesday post on Twitter. “We deserve proper consideration and the chance to read, debate and amend – not a backroom deal.”
“Opposing this isn’t radical: running our government like this is what’s radical,” Lee said.
“The Bible is about 1200 pages long. Could you read it 3 times before Friday?” he quipped.
The Bible is about 1200 pages long. Could you read it 3 times before Friday?
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) December 20, 2022
True to the senator’s words, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act” spans 4,155 pages and allocates approximately $858 billion in military spending and more than $772 billion for domestic programs, according to The New York Times.
The massive spending bill also includes $44.9 billion for Ukraine in its fight against Russia and $40.6 billion for disaster relief, in addition to provisions banning TikTok from government devices and amending election law, NBC News reported.
The election measures were initially two separate pieces of legislation — the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act and the Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act — being pushed by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, according to the outlet.
NBC News described them as “a rewrite of federal election laws aimed at preventing another Jan. 6-style attack and choking off avenues for future candidates to steal elections.”
According to the outlet, the election measures would limit the vice president’s role in elections to counting Electoral College votes and raise the bar for initiating a vote on objections to electors to one-fifth of the House and Senate.
The spending bill, which marks an increase in federal spending from 2021, resulted from bipartisan negotiations and has President Joe Biden’s backing, NBC News reported.
“I’m confident both sides can find things in it that they can enthusiastically support,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday, describing the legislation as “the last major item on our to-do list” before members of Congress left for the Christmas holidays.
“It’s not going to be everything anybody wanted,” the New York Democrat said.
Congress must pass the omnibus bill or another stopgap spending bill before Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
The inability of lawmakers to read the lengthy bills brought before them has long been seen as an issue plaguing Congress.
In March, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky asked the Senate to consider his resolution requiring that there be enough time for bills to be read before debate — one day per 20 pages for bills, amendments and conference reports.
“Do you think there is a single person in the U.S. who believes that Congress is filled with speed readers capable of digesting thousands of pages in a matter of hours?” Paul said in a statement at the time, speaking of the $1.5 trillion spending package being debated.
“The 2741-page omnibus with a $1.5 trillion price tag that was released in the middle of the night is a perfect example of why Congress needs time to read the bills,” he added.
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