Senator: 'There's No Way You Can Really Thoroughly Master' Entire Spending Bill Before Vote

By Matt Cover | December 15, 2010 | 6:58 PM EST

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) addresses a press conference on Capitol Hill (Photo: Cornyn Web site)

( Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) told on Wednesday that there is “no way” someone could master the full 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill before Congress votes on it later this week.

Other senators said they were working through the bill with their staff, and one remarked he would be “lucky” if he was able to read all of it.

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The current government-funding package expires on Saturday at midnight, making it imperative for Congress to approve new funding of some sort before then. The House of Representatives passed a 13-month continuing resolution last week while the Senate is considering the massive omnibus package that combines each of the 13 appropriations bills that normally make their way through Congress.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he was currently in the process of reading through the measure, noting that it was nearly 2,000 pages long.

“We’re certainly in the process of doing that right now,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s a lengthy bill – 1,924 pages long – and we’re going through it as others have and discovering a lot of bad stuff in the bill.”

Asked by CNSNews whether he would read the bill before the vote, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said there was “no way” senators could thoroughly examine the bill, but that he would do his best to read it through.

“There’s no way you can really thoroughly master that bill in two or three days time, to tell you the truth,” he said. “But yes, I’m going to try to look at each, you know, what’s in it.”

In contrast, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said not only were he and his staff actively reading through the bill, but he would have thoroughly examined every provision before he votes on it.

“I’m literally in the process of reading it,” he said. “I have not gotten through all of it; I just got another email from my office about another provision they found in there. So we’re still reading it.

“I will have read through it [before voting on it]. When I say ‘read through it all’ – so you understand – if you’ve read legislative language you know that you can read legislative language but to understand it you have to have some analysis done and some time. I will understand everything that’s in the bill; I will have read it, my staff will have read it, we will have analyzed the entire bill before I vote on it.”

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) also said he was currently trying to read through the bill and would be working to read through the entire measure before it comes up for a vote.

“I’m going to read as much of it as I possibly can,” Levin said. “If I’m lucky, I’ll read all of it, if I have enough time. And I’m working hard to get the time because it’s important that we read these bills.”

On Tuesday, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) told the Senate that he and other Republicans would work “to ensure that every single word of this bill is read aloud here on the Senate floor.”

McCain and others have criticized drafters for including well over 6,000 earmarks in the bill, worth more than $8 billion.