McConnell to oppose omnibus spending bill

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) announced Thursday that he will oppose an omnibus spending bill to fund the government next year.

McConnell’s decision means Democrats may have to settle for passing a stopgap spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, that keeps spending frozen at current levels.

McConnell criticized Democrats for not passing a single appropriations bill, setting up the need for Congress “to mop up in the 11th hour with an omnibus spending bill that covers all of it.”

Democratic leaders had hoped to bring up a package of appropriations bills that would have slightly increased domestic and defense spending levels.

“If this election showed us anything, it’s that Americans don’t want Congress passing massive trillion-dollar bills thrown together behind closed doors,” he said. “They want us to do business differently. So I won’t be supporting an omnibus spending bill.”

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has been working on an omnibus spending package with discretionary spending set at levels proposed by Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). Those levels are $20 billion less than President Obama requested, and would increase non-defense discretionary spending by 0.7 percent and defense spending by 1.5 percent, according to a Senate aide.

An omnibus bill would have allowed members of the Appropriations Committee to implement the spending decisions they've made over the past year. It would also allow lawmakers to receive funding for special projects in their home states. 

The Senate Republican Conference voted on Tuesday to adopt a resolution offered by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) stating that non-security discretionary spending should be reduced to 2008 levels.

The resolution, which GOP senators adopted to show their commitment to reducing government spending, may complicate efforts to even pass a stopgap measure that would freeze discretionary spending at current levels.

Republicans also adopted a resolution implementing a GOP conference-wide moratorium on appropriations earmarks.