As we hit the middle of the week before Christmas, one of the several mostly partisan battles Senate Democrats and Republicans were in the middle of was a fight over a massive spending bill for the fiscal 2011.
The new fiscal year started Oct. 1 and Congress has been funding the government's operations by passing a series of continuing resolutions.
But a proper spending bill is needed and on Tuesday Senate Democrats finally produced one. A 1,924-page draft of the spending legislation with more than $1 trillion in discretionary spending started circulating then.
And while earmarks have become a dirty word in much of the country, the Senate bill contains plenty of the congressionally directed spending.
Democrats are sounding confident that they have the 60 votes needed in the Senate to advance the legislation and pass it before the chamber adjourns for the holidays. They apparently want to vote Saturday on the legislation.
But some Republicans indicate they plan to draw a line in the sand against voting for the spending bill until the new Congress is seated in January.
Next month, Republicans will have six more seats in the Senate, giving Democrats a slimmer 53 to 47 seat majority.
Meanwhile, Republicans will also have control of the House. So Republicans would obviously rather wait for a few weeks when the numbers are more in their favor.
The Hill quotes Sen. John Thune, a S. Dakota Republican thought to have presidential ambitions:
"The attempt by Democrat leadership to rush through a nearly 2,000-page spending bill in the final days of the lame-duck session ignores the clear will expressed by the voters this past election," Thune said in a statement. "This bill is loaded up with pork projects and should not get a vote. Congress should listen to the American people and stop this reckless spending.”
The next House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), is framing the spending bill as a test of President Obama's seriousness to curb federal spending.
An excerpt from his statement:
“If President Obama is truly serious about ending earmarks, he should oppose Senate Democrats’ pork-laden omnibus spending bill and announce he will veto it if necessary. This bill represents exactly what the American people have rejected: more spending, more earmarks, and more big government. Republicans strongly oppose this last-ditch spending spree, a smack in the face to taxpayers at a time when we’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. Senate Democrats even go so far as to plow more than $1 billion into implementing ObamaCare, despite a growing national revolt against this job-killing health care law.