Bill full of legislative rejects

What others say

Posted: Friday, December 12, 2003

So called omnibus bills allow Congress to wrap up all the legislative leftovers of the year into one humongous bill that includes the sneakiest of details and policy changes.

It's bad enough these catchall bills have become standard practice. This year's pending $820 billion bill is especially egregious.

Omnibus bills are the work of conference committees that, technically, exist to reconcile differences between the House and the Senate. In practice, they go beyond reconciling differences. They often include legislation that was approved by neither house or, worse, legislation that was actually rejected by one or both houses. Then they are presented for a single, up-or-down vote on the entire package. Members have no opportunity to amend the bill and little choice but to vote yes...

But the administration wouldn't take no for an answer. Working with congressional leaders behind the scenes, the administration managed to include the changes to overtime pay in this year's omnibus bill...

(Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin) called it an abuse of power.

It is.

... The process makes this democratic country feel too dictatorial for comfort.

The Des Moines (Iowa) Register - Dec. 4

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