Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Thursday that Congress’ decision to bring back earmarks in the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill “opened the floodgates” of abuse.
Braun spoke to Breitbart News after congressional appropriations leaders released the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill, which contained 2,2727 earmarks, totaling $4.2 billion. This is the first bicameral funding package to include earmarks after a Republican-led majority banned earmarks in 2011.
Braun ripped into congressional appropriations leaders for reviving earmarks.
He said that the decision to include earmarks is “emblematic of kind of the broken system of not doing any budgets anymore. And just the complete kind of abuse of how we go about doing things here.”
Braun has introduced many budgetary reforms to fix Congress, including one that stipulates that senators would not receive a paycheck if they fail to pass a budget.
The Hoosier senator serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees, giving him a special insight into Congress’s current dysfunctional system.
He proposed an amendment to the omnibus on Thursday night to ax the roughly $8 billion in earmarks; the Senate shot his amendment down 35-64.
Braun said despite being on the Appropriations and Budget Committees, “we did no work and had no knowledge of what was going to be in” the omnibus bill. He said House and Senate leaders mainly “cooked up” the roughly 3,000 pages of the omnibus spending bill. “That is a sad you know, kind of narrative about where the federal government is,” Braun remarked.
Braun also said there need to be major reforms to Congress’ budget to reduce the deficit, especially as Americans grapple with inflation; however, he said lawmakers have little appetite to reform spending programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
“That takes political will. There’s no political will in this place,” he said.
Braun said Republicans and Democrats have teamed up together in an “unholy alliance” to continue to ratchet up debt and exacerbate inflation.
“It’s like you’re doubling down, and as we know, everything’s wrong about the process. We’ve gone to record amounts of spending, using COVID as an excuse to do it for a lot of the liberal wishlist stuff. But Republicans have been complicit in what I call the unholy alliance. Over time as we roll over to get everything we want on defense,” he said.
“We really could hold the line, but generally, even the more fiscally conservative ones here won’t hold the line for defense because defense is something that’s the most important thing we do in the federal government. But it shouldn’t be sacrosanct. It shouldn’t be, you know, immune to budgeting and audits, and that’s the way it operates as well.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.