- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2018

House Republicans’ spending chief told his colleagues Wednesday that there is no waste in the $1.3 trillion spending bill lawmakers are rushing through Congress this week.

“We’ve worked to make sure not a dollar is wasted,” Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, New Jersey Republican, said as he defended the massive bill before the House Rules Committee, pushing back against bipartisan frustration from lawmakers who said they couldn’t stomach voting on a 2,232-page bill with less than 24 hours’ time to read it.

But no less than President Trump disagreed with him, taking to Twitter to say he “had to waste money on Dem giveaways” in the bill in order to get his own military spending increases.

Mr. Frelinhuysen’s explanation also rang hollow to Rep. Jared Polis, Colorado Democrat, who had posed the question about waste, and who said he couldn’t believe Mr. Frelinghuysen was right about every dollar being needed.

“I would say there is a lot to find in this bill we can cut. And if we haven’t cut that, we haven’t done our work,” Mr. Polis said. “This is just no way to run a country.”

He had the bill printed on paper stacked in front of him, illustrating its heft — and the impossibility of lawmakers understanding what’s in it before they’re asked to vote on it.

“It’s just hard to read this much in one day. And more importantly, it’s money we don’t have,” he said.

The 2,232-page bill is accompanied by another 1,507 pages of reports explaining the spending decisions.

Combined, that’s 3,120 pages — more than twice the size of an average Bible.

If the House votes on the bill at noon Thursday, that would mean lawmakers would have to read 195 pages an hour in order to be ready for the vote.

Rep. Jim McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat, called forcing a vote so quickly “a lousy way to do business.”

“We just got this a couple of hours ago. I have no idea what’s in this thing,” he said, warning lawmakers not to be surprised when some provision tucked in the bill comes back to surprise them two or three weeks from now.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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