Omnibus Spending Bill

An omnibus spending bill is a bill that sets the budget of many departments of the United States government at once. It is one possible outcome of the budget process in the U.S.

Every year, Congress must pass bills that appropriate money for all discretionary government spending. Generally, one bill is passed for each sub-committee of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations. Ordinarily, each bill is passed separately — one bill for Defense, one for Homeland Security, and so on.

When Congress does not or cannot produce separate bills in a timely fashion (by the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1), it will roll many of the separate appropriations bills into one omnibus spending bill. Some of the reasons that Congress might not complete all the separate bills include partisan disagreement, disagreement amongst members of the same political party, and too much work on other bills.

Often, omnibus spending bills are criticized for being full of pork (unnecessary/wasteful spending that pleases constituents or special interest groups.). The bills regularly stretch to more than 1,000 pages. Nevertheless, such bills have grown more common in recent years.

In 2009, a $410 billion dollar omnibus bill, the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (H.R. 1105), became a point of controversy due to its $8 billion in earmarks. On March 11, the bill was signed by U.S. President Barack Obama into law as Pub.L. 111-8.

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    Robert Doisneau (b. 1912)