Mitch McConnell proved himself, really proved himself, when it came to the omnibus spending bill. Kimberly Strassel explains:
This week Democrats unveiled a $1.2 trillion omnibus, legislation as pure an insult to the electorate as it gets. It was a 1,924-page monstrosity that nobody had time to read. It took 11 spending bills that Democrats couldn’t be bothered to pass individually and crammed them into one oozing ball of pork and bad policy, going beyond even the obscene budget of 2010.
Yet to this legislative Frankenstein Democrats carefully attached the spenders’ equivalent of crack cocaine. To wit, omnibus author and Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye dug up earmark requests that Senate Republicans had made in the past year (prior to their self-imposed ban) and, unasked, included them in the bill. He lavished special, generous attention—$1 billion worth of it—on some reliable GOP earmark junkies: Mississippi’s Thad Cochran got $512 million; Utah’s Bob Bennett, $226 million; Maine’s Susan Collins, $114 million; Missouri’s Kit Bond, $102 million; Ohio’s George Voinovich, $98 million; and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, $80 million.
The effect of this dope—just sitting there, begging for a quick inhale—on earmarkers was immediate. Two seconds into the sweats and shaking hands, nine Republicans let Mr. Reid know they’d be open to this bill.
That [the omnibus bill’s passage] didn’t happen, but only because Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell accomplished a mini Christmas miracle. The Kentuckian devoted yesterday to making the arguments—both principled and political—to the Spending Nine. He was ultimately persuasive enough, and the earmarkers wise enough, to pull back their support. A very unhappy Mr. Reid was forced to yank the omnibus last night. He will now work with Republicans on a short-term funding bill, a process that should give the incoming GOP House far more influence over upcoming spending decisions.