Write Substantive replies to the Following Two Forum Posts.
Criteria for substantiveness may include the following, either individually or in combination:
1. The reply is in complete paragraphs, and not just one or two sentences.
2. The reply genuinely adds something to the Forum, in terms of new information or fresh insight.
3. It explains the responding student’s reasoning: “You’re right” is not substantive, but “I agree with you because…” stands a higher chance of being so.
4. It does not simply summarize what another student has said. Example: “I really like your post, especially when you said…”
5. The reply is supported by at least one research source, similar to a response post.
Forum Post One:
Before this week`s forum, I had never heard of an omnibus bill or was even aware of the pure political genius behind it. An omnibus bill is essentially a group of small bills all combined into one which is typically routed through the Senate and House of Representatives very quickly to endure passage. "These huge, complex measures often come to the floor toward the end of a congressional session, leaving little time for thorough examination of sometimes thousands of pages of complex legal and technical provisions."1 These bills obviously differ from a traditional bill because a normal bill is passed through a something all by itself, and it much easier to be dissected and approved or disapproved. Omnibus bills are a very successful political strategy used by both Republicans and Democrats that allow them to pass a bill that has their own agenda embedded within, but also has enough of the voter`s agenda to be passed.
One recent example of a successfully passed omnibus bill was a 2011 federal spending bill that was passed at the last minute to avoid government shutdown. The huge $1 trillion package was thrown together at the last minute and was the last vote the Senate had for the calendar year. Although it was passed 67-32, many had negative feelings toward it. Sen. John McCain of Arizona was quoted, "Here we are again, a bill 1,221 pages long. Not one member of this committee has read of - of this body has read-1,221 pages representing $915 billion of the taxpayer`s money. But never mind because we`re going to go home for Christmas."2 Directly after this vote, the Senate was released to go home for the holidays. It troubles the common taxpayer to think that these men and women don`t even care enough to read an entire bill that will affect the lives of millions of people because they wanted to get back home early for the holidays. Outside of working in the government, you go home when the job that you`re getting paid for is done correctly, not when it is convenient.
In conclusion, omnibus bills are a great political strategy to get a bill passed quickly and I`m sure most of the time there is a lot of good bills being passed along with the politically charged ones. On the contrary though, the American people would be much more reassured if every bill, regardless of time limits or importance, was gone through with a fine tooth comb.
Forum Post Two:
The omnibus bill is not very ominous, but it is far from transparent. The omnibus bill is a method of consolidating several similar issues into one bill while decreasing the scrutiny and debate normally set aside for bills. Through use of omnibus bills, issues of critical importance, are pushed with an all or nothing legality. Individual articles within the bill are not up for debate which could create a forced compromise, or derail an entire bill because of the failure to compromise. Historically, lawmakers also used omnibus bills to attach pork barrel projects or riders to a bill to fund or authorize something without debating the merit of such an undertaking and bury the action in the pages of legislation. Earmarks were officially outlawed in 2010, but given how little our leaders know of the bills they pass, it could still be taking place now.
The "FISCAL YEAR 2015 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS BILL," H.R. 83, is a consolidated bill encompassing funding for 11 of the 12 appropriations. The bill was summarized in a neat and tidy 62 pages covering the highlights to each of the 11 appropriations needed to maintain government operations. Those 62 pages are a streamline of the 1603 page bill which is the legally binding document approved by congress and signed by the president on December 17, 2014. Allow me to sum up the history of this bill. The president issued his FY15 budget request on March 4, 2015. From March 4 until December 9, the individual appropriations of the budget were debated, discussed, refused, rewritten and reintroduced in both the Senate and the House. The bill was presented on December 9 and approved by the House on December 11. The Senate passed H.R. 83 on December 13, and the President signed the bill into law on December 17.
The FY15 appropriations bill took nine months to debate the individual appropriations, failed to achieve an agreement to pass individual funding, then was approved as an omnibus bill in eight days. To give some context to this bill, week three`s lesson had a total of about 35 pages of reading material and took a couple hours to understand well enough to discuss intelligently. The House would have needed to read 33 pages per hour continuously for 48 hours to even read the entire bill; this math doesn`t even consider debate, discussion or sleep. The Senate would have needed to read 400 pages per day; they had some extra time for discussion and debate while the House was still reviewing and voting on the bill. The President still had to read 200 pages per day just to know everything he was signing. I broke the bill down like this to demonstrate how flawed and undemocratic an omnibus bill is. When a bill like this is presented, which has such dire consequences if defeated, there is almost no way for our legislative branch to represent their constituents and exercise prudence and oversight.
1. Nick Saab, "FY15 Omnibus - A Close Shave," American Geophysical Union, December 12, 2014, http://thebridge.agu.org/2014/12/12/fy15-omnibus-close-shave/ .
2. "Congress Approves Massive Funding Bill for FY15," iaced.org last modified December 14, 2014, http://www.iaced.org/2014/12/congress-approves-massive-funding-bill-for-fy15/ .
3. "Summary: Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill," Senate.gov, December 9, 2014, http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/summary-fiscal-year-2015-omnibus-appropriations-bill
4. "H.R.83 - Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015," Congress.gov, https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/83/amendments .