The Politics of Omnibus Bills
The silliness of singling out tiny measures.
Both HuffPo (“Tommy Tuberville Celebrates Broadband Funding He Voted Against“) and Business Insider (“Sen. Tommy Tuberville voted against a bill that just gave his state $1.4 billion for rural broadband. He’s celebrating it anyway.“) fall into one of the laziest and most annoying traps in American politics. Tuberville is a buffoon whose staff still calls him “Coach” rather than “Senator,” and it saddens but doesn’t surprise me that my erstwhile home state decided that he was their best choice to represent them. But this particular criticism is silly.
Were he presented with a standalone bill sending $1.4 billion to Alabama for rural broadband, he would almost surely have not only voted for it but begged to sign on as a co-sponsor. Instead, this funding comes from two massive omnibus bills—the so-called American Rescue Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—that spent $1.9 Trillion and $65 billion, respectively. The amount going to rural Alabama’s infrastructure is a rounding error.
This is further complicated by the lockstep partisan voting that has become the norm, especially for the Republican Party, over the last fifteen or so years. As a junior senator, it behooves Tuberville to vote with the GOP leadership if he wants plum committee assignments that will allow him to do things like pack these kinds of goodies into future laws.