The CRomnibus

The Basics:
A “CRomnibus” is the awkwardly named combination of a Continuing Resolution and an Omnibus. An omnibus bill is a term for an appropriations bill that conjoins multiple departments’ budgets. Each of the 12 executive cabinet departments has its own appropriations bill to fund the department. When the bills are not appropriated in time, they are combined into one large “omnibus” bill. An omnibus is a short-term appropriations bill but is much longer than a Continuing Resolution. A CRomnibus combines elements of the very short term Continuing Resolution with the longer term Omnibus.

 

This bill is considered a CRomnibus because while most departments will be funded through October, the Department of Homeland Security will only be funded through February 27, 2015.

 

The total budget for FY 2015 has been appropriated at 1.013 trillion dollars.

 

The Problem:
Omnibuses, due to their nature, generally tend to be filled with lots of unnecessary programs and spending. This problem is only exacerbated by the fact that the bill was released on December 9th and must be voted on by December 11th.

 

Funding DHS through only February is at the center of a huge issue. President Obama issued an executive order delaying the deportation of undocumented immigrants which lead to partisan divide over the legality of the order. This decision impacted the debate around the CRomnibus, leading some members of Congress to refuse voting for a budget that would fund the executive order.  Funding for the executive order would fall under the Department of Homeland Security, which bumped up the budget for securing the border ($748.8 million), detention centers ($1.9 billion), and increasing the number of border agents. (21,370 agents at $219.6 million).

 

Where do we go from here?
The CRomnibus makes some positive steps such as defunding the “risk corridors” in the Affordable Care Act, cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and Internal Revenue Service, and defunding the International Monetary Fund.  It also makes several missteps including recommissioning the USS Eisenhower, $5 billion for emergency Ebola funding, and $5.8 billion for the F-35 Joint Striker aircraft program.

 

Although the CRomnibus adheres to the budget caps under the Budget Control Act of 2011, it does not do the same in regards to sequester limits. With an $18 trillion dollar debt, it is important that we take serious steps to consolidating the debt. Being serious means being deliberate and making large-scale fiscal decisions in less than 48 hours is contradictory to making substantial changes to the trend of spending in Washington.