U.S. Sen. John Cornyn joined Senate Democrats and a handful of other Republican senators to advance a 4,155-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that funds the federal government through September of next year.

The massive spending bill includes nearly $45 billion in aid to Ukraine, dozens of earmarks for “woke” community projects, and changes to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, among several other items not addressed by Congress earlier this year.

The bill was published early Tuesday morning, only a few days before a Friday deadline to fund the federal government and avert a partial shutdown.

The vote marked a break between Texas’ two senators. Shortly after the 68-29 vote, Sen. Ted Cruz posted a statement on Twitter explaining why he had opposed the measure.

Cruz accused Senate Republican leadership of giving up the leverage they would have gained in a few days when a Republican majority takes control in the U.S. House by allowing Democrats to dictate federal spending for much of the next year. This action, Cruz argued, will enable the Biden administration to continue its reckless policies on energy, illegal immigration, crime, and inflation.

“The main beneficiaries of this bill are those on the receiving end of left-wing pet projects and pork-barrel spending while the American people will get stuck paying the bill as they continue to suffer,” Cruz asserted.

Meanwhile, Cornyn posted several tweets in which he tried to explain his vote in favor of the spending, saying a shutdown would “negatively impact our national security & economy at a time when we can least afford it.”

Before the Senate voted to approve the bill, amendments by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Kyrsten (I-Arizona) to extend Title 42 pandemic-era border policies were defeated.

Questionable expenditures in the bill include:

  • $575 million for “family planning/reproductive health, including in areas where population growth threatens biodiversity or endangered species.”
  • $3.6 million for a Michelle Obama Trail in Georgia.
  • $2.35 million for the Leahy Center in Vermont. Sen. Patrick Leahy is the Democrat chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the chief negotiator for the bill.
  • $1.2 million for “LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers” at San Diego Community College.
  • $1 million for Zora’s House in Ohio, a “coworking and community space” for “women and gender-expansive people of color.”
  • $500,000 for a skate park in Rhode Island.

Congress has not approved spending for the next fiscal year ahead of its October 1 start date since 1996. Instead, it has opted to approve short-term continuing resolutions or rolled multifaceted appropriations and legislative items into all-or-nothing omnibus bills that include tons of pork-barrel projects along with essential spending for things like the military, healthcare, and transportation.

Since 1994, when Republicans gained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, control of the lower chamber has flipped four times (2006, 2010, 2018, 2022). Before now, Congress has not passed a major appropriations bill during a lame-duck session.

The bill now heads to the U.S. House, where it is expected to pass before being signed by President Joe Biden.

Darrell Frost

Since graduating from Hillsdale College, Darrell has held key roles in winning political campaigns, managed a state legislator's Capitol office, and taught at a classical charter school. He enjoys participating in outdoor activities, playing the harmonica, and learning about the latest scientific developments.