Over the past several decades, big-government lawmakers and lobbyists have developed a wide array of techniques they have used to successfully advance their own interests, usually to the detriment of our nation. If conservatives are to be successful in changing Washington and saving the country, we must first understand the tools of their self-indulging trade.
One of the easiest tricks to spot is the “Christmas Tree.”
The Senate’s glossary helpfully defines a “Christmas tree” bill as one “that attracts many, often unrelated, floor amendments. The amendments which adorn the bill may provide special benefits to various groups or interests.” In many cases, though, the bill is amended behind closed doors with little or no notice to or scrutiny from interested parties, such as taxpayers.
In these cases, only a handful of lawmakers, lobbyists and staffers are privy to the bill’s details until the authors make it public, leaving little time for those of us on the outside to read, review, and analyze hundreds — sometimes thousands — of pages of complex legislative language.
Case in point is the $1.111 trillion omnibus spending bill the House passed yesterday. The 1,582-page bill was released just after 8 p.m. on Monday, and while most were aware of the spending level (too high), hardly anyone knew which policy riders were or were not included in the package, what programs saw spending cuts or increases, and what extraneous measures were added.
It was in response to multiple Pelosi-led omnibus spending bills that House Republicans, in their 2010 Pledge to America, promised to “end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with ‘must-pass’ legislation to circumvent the will of the American people.”