A “CRomnibus” is the awkwardly named combination of a Continuing Resolution and an Omnibus. An omnibus bill is a term for an appropriations bill that conjoins multiple departments’ budgets. Each of the 12 executive cabinet departments has its own appropriations bill to fund the department. When the bills are not appropriated in time, they are combined into one large “omnibus” bill. An omnibus is a short-term appropriations bill but is much longer than a Continuing Resolution. A CRomnibus combines elements of the very short-term Continuing Resolution with the longer term Omnibus.
For example, in FY2015, the spending bill was considered a CRomnibus because while most departments were funded through October, the Department of Homeland Security was only be funded through February 27, 2015.
Omnibuses, due to their nature, generally tend to be filled with lots of unnecessary programs and spending. This problem was only exacerbated by the fact that the CRomnibus in FY2015 was released on December 9th and needed to be voted on by December 11th.
Funding DHS through only February was at the center of a huge issue. President Obama issued an executive order delaying the deportation of undocumented immigrants which lead to partisan divide over the legality of the order. This decision impacted the debate around the CRomnibus, leading some members of Congress to refuse voting for a budget that would fund the executive order. Funding for the executive order fell under the Department of Homeland Security, which bumped up the budget for securing the border ($748.8 million), detention centers ($1.9 billion), and increasing the number of border agents. (21,370 agents at $219.6 million).
Where do we go from here?
The CRomnibus made some positive steps such as defunding the “risk corridors” in the Affordable Care Act, cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and Internal Revenue Service, and defunding the International Monetary Fund. It also made several missteps including recommissioning the USS Eisenhower, $5 billion for emergency Ebola funding, and $5.8 billion for the F-35 Joint Striker aircraft program.
Although that CRomnibus adhered to the budget caps under the Budget Control Act of 2011, it did not do the same in regards to sequester limits. With a national debt over $20 trillion, it is important that we take serious steps to consolidating the debt. Being serious means being deliberate and making large-scale fiscal decisions in less than 48 hours is contradictory to making substantial changes to the trend of spending in Washington.