COMPASS: The Last Compass of 2022

December 29th, 2022

Good afternoon from Capitol Hill. 

Before departing for the holiday last week, Congress passed a $1.7 trillion omnibus. Given the speed at which it was released and then passed, it’s safe to assume that members hardly knew what was in the more than 4,000 page bill. So just like Nancy Pelosi said back in 2010, we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. That was once a statement that was widely mocked – now, it’s just how DC does business.

Rep. Dan Bishop put together a long Twitter thread of highlights, including $1.5 million for U.S. Customs and Border Protection which can’t be used for actual border security – but $410 million toward border security for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman. 

The Heritage Foundation put out a list they termed “woke priorities” in the omnibus, including $1.2 million for LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers, $477,000 for the Equity Institute in Rhode Island, and $3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum.

According to Bloomberg, the bill included more than 7,500 earmarks totaling over $16 billion, $656 million of which went to departing Appropriations Committee vice chair Richard Shelby. Like every massive spending bill, this omnibus also created some monuments to self: the bill names a San Francisco federal building after Nancy Pelosi, and a school food program, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and a law enforcement grant program after Sen. Patrick Leahy. The Alabama FBI office was renamed after Sen. Shelby. And Michelle Obama got a $3.6 million trail in Georgia named after her.

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The bill passed 68 to 29 in the Senate, and 225 to 201 in the House. As a reminder, this legislation will lock in spending priorities for the next fiscal year, removing the ability of the incoming GOP House to engage the spending process for an entire year. One of the more sickening elements of this whole debacle? More than half of House members didn’t even show up for a vote – they phoned it in via proxy voting. 

But still, there is some good news. Congress may be a perpetual disappointment, but conservatives in the states are shining bright. The South Carolina Freedom Caucus just notched a win with a Freedom of Information Act request to the Medical University of South Carolina shutting down the institution’s pediatric trans clinic.

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One More Thing…

This is the last Compass of 2022 – and my last time writing it! After five years with CPI, beginning at its founding, I’ll be heading back over to the Senate as the Executive Director of the Senate Steering Committee, the caucus of the Senate’s conservative members, currently chaired by Sen. Mike Lee. It’s been a pleasure being in your inboxes every week, and getting to know many of you personally. Most of you know how to reach me – please don’t be a stranger!