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Omnibus Makes Key Investments Despite Downsides

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and U.S. House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) today released their respective drafts of the $1.5 trillion FY 22 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen and co-chair of the Clean Budget Coalition, released the following statement:

“We are thrilled that an omnibus increasing funding to important projects and programs has finally been crafted and is on its way to passage. In this time of economic and health crisis, agencies need sufficient funding to meet the needs of the American people. That said, it is extremely unfortunate to see continued increases in unnecessary military spending, insufficient funding to keep up the fight against the pandemic, and so many legacy poison pill policy riders reinserted into the final deal.

“This includes a rider that halts the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing a rule requiring corporate political spending disclosure. While the agency can work on the policy in the interim, the inability to finish a rule that would bring secret political spending – long hotly demanded by investors – into the sunlight is a missed opportunity. As companies from banks to crypto to oil companies spend ever increasing amounts to influence our elections, investors have a right to know how their funds are being used in politics.

“Nearly two years into the pandemic, a global vaccine apartheid persists – increasing the risk of new variants and fueling greater disparities in health outcomes that have already resulted in millions of deaths. The $5 billion requested by the White House and provided in the omnibus will fund desperately needed resources to deliver shots, provide far more testing, and ensure treatments are available to those who need them most. However, it falls far short of the $17 billion minimum needed for a serious response. And it’s no substitute for President Biden and Congress taking further action to support global manufacturing, technology sharing, and ensuring that production of highly effective vaccines and treatments are not only the province of the world’s rich.

“This package also includes $782 billion for the Pentagon, an egregious $42 billion increase from FY 21 and more than $28 billion over what President Biden even requested for FY 22. The damaging dynamic on Capitol Hill that accepts ballooning defense spending as the price to be paid for any modest increase in non-defense spending creates an endless stream of funding for the military-industrial complex while leaving everyday Americans struggling to meet their daily needs. The huge, undiscerning sum of money funneled to the Pentagon in this package is a distinct loss for the American people.

“Despite these criticisms, appropriators in both parties deserve much praise for coming to the table and finalizing a deal that – on the whole – will benefit the public at a time when we need full funding of the investments, projects, and the programs that help regular Americans.”