Texas Senator Ted Cruz summed up a massive $1.4 trillion spending package approved by the Senate on Thursday with a turn of phrase borrowed from the founding fathers: “Of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists and for the lobbyists.”
The spending bill the Senate is voting on tomorrow is lobbyist boondoggle that belongs in an ashtray. pic.twitter.com/fa9euZLMYQ
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) December 19, 2019
Cruz unloaded on the 2,313-page “pile of trash” in a viral online video ahead of the 81-11 Senate vote on Thursday, which moved the bill to the president less than a day after House Democrats voted to impeach him from office.
Trump is now expected to sign the bill to fund the federal government through September 2020 with a looming Friday deadline to avert a shutdown, NPR reports.
Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle celebrated the legislation as a bi-partisan win, but Cruz is not one of them.
“Christmas came early in Washington, for lobbyists. Lobbyists who are bankrupting this country,” the senator said in a video Wednesday, as he lit a cigar.
“Two thousand, three hundred and thirteen pages, dropped on us the day before yesterday,” he said. “Nobody’s read it. There isn’t a person alive who has read this piece of garbage.
“But it was put together in the dark of the night with Republican leadership and (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer cutting a deal.”
Cruz listed off several grievances with the massive legislation, explaining in detail how it benefits the powerful, wealthy and well-connected a lot more than the average American.
“What’s in it? Well, we don’t know everything, but here’s one thing: it extends the Ex-Im Bank, one of the greatest corporate boondoggles, corporate welfare. The lobbyists love it,” Cruz said. “For seven years, the Ex-Im Bank is extended, with no vote on it.”
“Number two, buried in here, it raises the tobacco purchasing age to 21,” he said, pointing out that the government could force 18-year-olds to join the military or into war, but won’t allow them to smoke.
“Did we have a vote on that? Did we have a debate on that? Did someone say maybe the states could set the tobacco age, maybe it doesn’t have to be the federal government? Nope,” Cruz said. “No vote, just a deal in a smoke-filled room forcing that result.”
The former presidential candidate also pointed to government-funded research on gun control included in the bill, which tasks the Centers for Disease Control with carrying out the work.
“Can’t you wait for the report from the Centers for Disease Control – mind you last I checked exercising your Second Amendment rights is not a virus the Centers for Disease Control should be studying – but now we have millions of dollars funding bogus studies that are going to be used to try to take away your constitutional rights,” said Cruz, who opposed continued tax breaks for renewable energy companies included in the legislation, as well.
“And how much is it? We know it’s 2,313 pages, but those pages spend $1.4 trillion,” he said. “You want to know how you bankrupt a country?
“You want to know how you get a $23 trillion national debt?” he questioned in the video, turning to a foot-high tower of paper on his desk. “You’re looking at it. Deals cut in the dead of night. One point four trillion dollars, you’ve probably never seen that. Well, you’re looking at it right there.”
Cruz went on to name several Republican priorities that are left out of the legislation, or minimized at the request of Democrats, including continued taxpayer funding for abortion provider Planned Parenthood, the elimination of Obamacare, penalties for sanctuary cities, and adequate funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Trump requested $8.6 billion, but the spending plan budgets just $1.4 billion.
It also comes with big wins for teachers unions over students and families struggling in public schools by stripping out funding for education savings plans, Cruz said.
“It fails to expand college 529 savings plans and to expand educational freedom,” he said. “This is a bi-partisan idea. This is an idea that passed the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously, until the teachers unions got (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi to do a drive-by shooting and strip it out, hurting parents that have kids with disabilities, hurting kids with disabilities, hurting homeschoolers, hurting millions public school students who are prevented from using 529 savings plans to pay for tutoring and standardized tests.”
Leaders released the more than 2,300-page agreement just a day before the House voted on the package, leaving many lawmakers scrambling to learn the details. Hours later, and before the House could vote, leaders also attached a $54 billion package of miscellaneous tax breaks to the bill.
The massive legislation is 81 pages longer than the government spending plan President Trump approved in 2018, when he promised Congress “I will never sign another bill like this again.”
Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump will sign off on the spending plan for 2020 before the government is set to shut down without it Friday night.
Meanwhile, the annual deficit is on track to surpass $1 trillion for the first time since 2012, The Hill reports.