Sen. Mike Lee Tears Up Christmas Spending: ‘Extortion Threat’

Sen. Mike Lee ripped House and Senate leaders Wednesday for orchestrating the end-of-the-year government spending drama, accusing them of threatening to spoil Christmas by forcing them to vote on bills that keep the government running but also include federal spending. .

The last-minute maneuver was “by its very nature designed to carry out this extortion threat,” Lee said. “You either vote for this or you vote to shut down the government and leave us with the alternative … to work over the Christmas holidays and miss scheduled family time. That’s how they do it.”

Leaders of the House and Senate are set to vote this week on a short-term spending bill to keep the government going until Dec. 23, giving them time to write and pass a full-year spending bill next week. gives more time. The deal, between House and Senate Democrats, may have enough support from Senate Republicans to pass it, but House Republicans, many of whom oppose new spending and want to pass it next year under House control. wants to focus on the issue.


Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, accused Democratic leaders of using the “threat of extortion” to get them to approve more federal spending.
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Lee and his Republican colleagues in the Senate agree with House Republicans, and Lee has accused Democratic leaders of using the Christmas holiday as leverage to push through next week. Lee said Congress should instead pass a bill that would fund the government for several more weeks, giving the GOP majority in the House next year time to decide on next year’s spending.

The plan “allows Congress to approach this omnibus spending package with the clarity it requires, not under the threat of a shutdown and missing Christmas vacations with family,” Lee said. “That’s where the practice of spending these two kinds of risk puts us.”

Lee also said he wants to avoid a partial government shutdown, but the Democratic plan makes a shutdown more likely.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“It significantly increases the risk of a shutdown,” Lee said of the dramatic timing at the end of the year. “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. That’s its purpose.”

“You put an important bill that needs to be passed, in this case, a spending bill that would shut down the government, right next to the planned recess,” he said. “The more critical and valuable the break, the stronger the threat. And then you move it closer to that break.”

Lee was joined by Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Rick Scott, R-Fla. and Rand Paul, R-Ky., all warned of the risk of new spending in an era of high inflation. Paul accused “big government” Republicans of working with Democrats to pass the Christmas Tree bill in the final days of the year.

“A Christmas Tree in Washington is a bill that has something for everyone,” Paul said. “You don’t know what it is until you get it, you can’t read it until you do it, but it happens because the only thing that always happens in Washington is they get together to spend money.”


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif.
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Johnson warned that the federal government will continue to spend even as the COVID pandemic eases. Johnson said the government spent $4.4 billion in 2019 before the pandemic began, and now, four years later, it is on pace to not return to that level but could remain above $6 trillion.

Outside budget experts said almost all of the new spending would come from borrowing, which would add to the $31.3 trillion national debt.

“We’re putting our children’s future on the line,” Johnson said. “It’s killing us financially. It has to stop.”

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