Donald J. Trump, Omnibus, and the WALL
Has Donald J Trump “Betrayed his Base” with the signing of the Omnibus Spending Bill?
The answer to that question depends on who you listen to. If you listen to Ann Coulter, Rand Paul and many of the freedom caucus members; the apocalypse has struck and we better find a new candidate to run for 2020; because POTUS has just funded abortion, built an egregiously over-priced tunnel between NY and NJ, funded border walls in several different countries while abandoning our own, and agreed to spend our country into oblivion as he has completely capitulated to both the Democrats and the greedy neocon Republicans!
If you really look closely however at what has just happened with the signing of this bill; you will see that it is an absolutely beyond brilliant maneuver on the part of our President! Please take note that what was signed was not a budget; it was an omnibus spending bill.
Let’s start with the difference between a budget and an Omnibus bill. With an actual budget, which we have not had in approximately 9 years, congress passes and the president signs into law 12 separate appropriations bills. These 12 bills together provide funding for the federal government. In a budget, money is specifically laid out by congress and the president is obligated to spend it as congress has instructed.
An omnibus spending bill packages together all 12 of the appropriations bills that are supposed to be passed individually, into one large spending bill. These bills often contain many unrelated pieces of legislation that congress knows would be vetoed by the President if presented individually. Omnibus bills are typically hundreds or even thousands of pages long. Because of their size, omnibus bills usually only receive a cursory look by the committees charged with reviewing them. Despite lack of understanding of what is in the omnibus, they are not usually subject to much debate and pass through Congress quickly.
Unlike an actual budget; the appropriations in an Omnibus bill are merely “suggestions” and subject to POTUS discretion as he is free to re-appropriate funds in certain instances. One such instance, is in a declared national emergency.
I have already outlined why Congress would want to pass an Omnibus instead of an actual budget (to avoid a presidential veto), but why would POTUS agree to this approach? I believe that what we witnessed with the passage of this Omnibus bill is a president who knew he needed, but would never get, the votes of the Democrats in order to acquire the funds to build the much needed, and promised, southern border wall. With the passage of this bill, he now has them.
With the Executive Order passed in December of 2017; the President has declared a national human rights and corruption emergency; giving him a broad brush of authority as outlined within the EO. I believe he passed this EO in anticipation of just such a situation as this, as well as a few others.
After the passage of the Omnibus bill; POTUS initiated 2 separate letters to congress notifying them that he is invoking the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. These letters can be viewed Here and Here.
By making these declarations President Trump has just communicated that he has the authority to NOT spend any funds he doesn’t deem necessary and will return them to the US Treasury. Planned Parenthood funds? He can either slow walk them for 6 months (Omnibus expiration), or choose to simply not allocate them at all.
These declarations also make some of the funds fungible; meaning interchangeable. This means that if he determines that building the wall on the Southern border is a defense against Human Trafficking, then he can move funds from anywhere else in the DOD allocation and use them to build the wall. Congress is powerless to stop monetary reallocations on an Omnibus bill and cannot intervene or stop the DOD from taking measures under a declared emergency.
President Trump has already indicated that this may be exactly what he will do in his tweet posted days after the signing of the Omnibus bill.
By using the Army Corp of Engineers to build the wall, the labor and materials can be designated as military spending, therefore immune from any congressional or legal interference. Although we all know they will try; and with a few corrupt judges, it may ultimately end up in the Supreme Court. Once there, the case will be decided in his favor as SCOTUS will validate the presidents constitutional authority. Remember, this bill is only valid until September 30, 2018. This means that any money designated in areas of waste can simply be slow-walked for 6 months until the bill expires. In this way; the wall will be built, Planned Parenthood and all of the other wasteful appropriations in the bill get nothing and any unspent dollars go back to the US treasury.
Given the way this appears to be unfolding, Ann Coulter and company may very well find themselves with a large helping of crow laid before them in the coming days!
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