Shortly before Americans geared up for their Christmas and New Year’s holiday celebrations, while onboard Air Force One traveling to his Mar-a-Lago resort for his own holiday getaway, President Donald Trump signed two federal spending packages totaling $1.4 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year that began last October.
The president’s signature on 14 separate appropriation bills comprising a 2,300-page combined spending plan sidestepped another government shutdown at midnight that evening.
Hidden in the process are hastily approved changes in laws that might not withstand individual inspection in the legislative process but become effective thanks to their inclusion in the massive spending plan.
It’s not a great way to run a democracy but it seems to be a common practice.
Leaders in both the Senate and House publicly touted aspects of the massive appropriations plan as big wins for their particular political parties.
Republicans claimed victory for increased defense funding, elimination of taxes intended to pay for Obamacare and continued funding for the southern border wall among others.
At the same time, Democrats declare big wins for research funding into gun violence and climate change, new funding for national election security and the Head Start education program and budgeted dollars to increase wages for federal employees.
Much pennant waving and back-patting has taken place even though Congress again failed overall to address the fiscal problem of our growing national debt. American taxpayers are left with a bill to underwrite the increase in government funding of nearly $50 billion more than fiscal year 2019. Nevertheless, a surging stock market continues to turn its cheek.
Campaigning for a seventh term in office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell points Kentuckian attention to more than $900 million in federal spending and tax cuts of direct benefit to the Bluegrass State.
Among the larger projects funded includes construction funding for the Robley Rex Veterans Administration Medical Center in Louisville, continued cleanup of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, construction projects at Fort Campbell Army post, funding to bolster Kentucky’s fledgling hemp industry, pension benefit increases for coal industry workers and tax breaks for Kentucky’s bourbon distillers and thoroughbred horse racing industries.
“I was directly responsible for these items,” McConnell said during a recent news conference in Louisville. He’s said Kentucky can “punch above its weight” thanks to his Senate leadership position.
Considering the nearly $1 billion in federal funding comprising these and other statewide projects, it’s hard to disagree.
Describing her incumbent opponent as “all that’s wrong with Washington,” it will be difficult for Democratic challenger Amy McGrath to cast a negative light on the benefits of these projects.
Ultimately, voters have the final say on whether McConnell has “failed (Kentuckians) over and over again” as McGrath and his 10 other would-be challengers will claim between now and the May 19 primary.
Akin to sausage-making, politics isn’t a pretty business. Whether one likes the process or its results, in the 2020 federal spending plan, McConnell delivered the pork for Kentucky.
This editorial reflects a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.