Omnibus Bill Passes in the Senate

( — The $1.7 trillion Omnibus spending bill has passed in the Senate, in a 68 to 29 vote. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) tried to save Title 42 by introducing an amendment aimed at keeping it active. This legislation, originally introduced by the Trump administration, allows government agencies to deport border crossers without hearing any asylum claim. Sen. Lee’s amendment required that funding for the Department of Homeland Security, headed by Alejandro Mayorkas, be cut if Title 42 does not stay in place.

Title 42 was due to end on December 21st but a group of 19 GOP-led states appealed to the Supreme Court to keep it active. Chief Justice John Roberts granted this request on December 20th. The Biden administration, however, has asked Chief Justice Roberts to allow the legislation to expire.

Some Democrats hinted that Sen. Lee aimed to kill the Omnibus bill entirely, as it was highly unlikely to pass with his amendment included.

The Utah Senator had been expressing concerns about the Omnibus bill for weeks. On December 17th he published a statement on his website suggesting that the bill contained policies that would not be approved if they were proposed individually. “The Omnibus spending bill soon to come before us is chock full of controversial policies that never would have passed had they been exposed to the light of day,” he wrote. He said the policies are so contentious that they need open and honest debate on the Senate floor. “It is an insult to this body, the Constitution, and the American people, that the least trusted institution in America is planning to sneak these policies through without public scrutiny or amendment,” he added.

Lee was not the only senator to try to get an amendment to save Title 42 into the omnibus bill. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) proposed a separate amendment that would have prolonged Title 42 until a strategy to deal with an increase in illegal border crossings was in place, as well as providing for a variety of additional security efforts. Neither amendment garnered enough votes to pass inclusion into the omnibus bill.

The Omnibus bill is more than 4,000 pages long and some members of Congress have complained that there wasn’t time to read it because it was being rushed through with demands from Democrats that it be passed before Christmas.

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