Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) took aim at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Thursday for slowing down passage of the chamber’s first batch of government funding bills.
Collins, top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Johnson was holding up consideration of the amendments from both sides for a funding package leaders hope to pass in the coming days.
“The senator from Wisconsin has repeatedly said, and I agree with him, that we should not end up with an omnibus bill, a 4,000-page bill at the end of the year with little consideration, largely drafted by a small group of people,” Collins said on the floor Thursday.
“So, why is the senator from Wisconsin objecting to proceeding to three appropriations bills that were reported unanimously, unanimously, each one of them by the Senate Appropriations Committee, after a great deal of work?” she said. “Furthermore, the senator is objecting to Republican amendments being offered to this package.”
Senators say the conservative was holding up consideration of the funding package because he wanted the three bills included to be considered separately.
“The Senate has been broken as long as I have served. The level of dysfunction is grotesque,” Johnson told The Hill in a statement. “We are $33 trillion in debt, and this year the deficit will exceed $1.7 trillion, and we will spend $1.9 trillion more than we spent in FY2019.”
“Spending is completely out-of-control, and putting a minibus on the floor 3 weeks before the end of the fiscal year can hardly be called regular order,” he said.
The Senate is moving what’s called a minibus, combining the Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration, Military Construction-Veteran Affairs and Transportation-Department of Housing and Urban Development funding measures.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) also offered support to Johnson.
“There are only seven to 10 of us that are truly fiscal conservatives here that don’t want to keep borrowing money from future generations, and Ron is one of them,” he said.
“So, we’ve all got that same goal in mind,” Braun said.
Other Republicans also say they prefer the minibus package be split up, with Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) arguing “it’s not a full robust amendment process.”
But Collins and other GOP negotiators say they don’t see much of a difference, while noting the three bills under consideration passed out of committee with unanimous support from both sides.
“I think that ignores the reality that each of the 12 bills was reported separately independently,” Collins told reporters after her floor remarks. “And in the case of the first three, we’re bringing to the floor unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee.”
“The fact is, we’ll take plenty of time on the three bills, and we’re going to have a robust amendment process. So what difference does it make?” she asked. “We don’t have time to take each bill individually to the floor or we’re going to end up with either an omnibus, a government shutdown or a yearlong continuing resolution, which would fund programs that shouldn’t be funded anymore and prevent new programs from starting up.”
Updated at 6:23 p.m.