Letter to the Editor: Shelby’s Final Christmas “Gift” to Taxpayers




In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Senate appropriators finally released the text of a gargantuan 4,155-page omnibus spending bill in a last-minute bid to gouge taxpayers, reward K Street allies and further expand the reach of our increasingly woke and weaponized federal government before a new House majority takes hold in January. The cost of this craptacular legislation is at least $1.7 trillion, with some estimates expected to show the true cost closer to $2 trillion with the inclusion of supplemental spending.

The bill includes explicit prohibitions on funding to secure the border despite record apprehensions and fentanyl deaths; no efforts to constrain rogue agencies like the FBI; increases funding to the CDC despite its persistent health misinformation; includes $16 billion in corrupt earmarks, including a $3 million funding stream for a gay pride museum in New York City; and doubles-down on green energy climate dogma that is a key driver of our skyrocketing energy costs.  

One of the key architects of the legislation is outgoing Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking member on the appropriations committee. This, of course, will come as no surprise to people who have followed Shelby and his less-than-illustrious career feasting on hard-working taxpayers as both a Democrat and a Republican.

In a recent interview with Beltway insider rag Politico, our esteemed senior Senator proudly offered a cliché-riddled quip that, “You can’t be against everything. I’m pretty conservative in a lot of ways, but I’m not against everything.” And indeed, based on the substance of the last-minute taxpayer trough-feeding, one may rightly conclude that Shelby isn’t against anything. Like the deal-making mercenary he has always been, Shelby supports pretty much all of it — especially renaming the FBI facility at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, which will soon be known as the “Richard Shelby Center for Innovation & Advanced Training.” 

Shelby likes to say that monuments are for “pigeons and dogs,” but he certainly has no qualms about using our hard-earned money to rename or build his own personal Towers of Babel. 

However, it’s not merely the substance contained within the omnibus — or Shelby’s ravenous corruption — that is objectionable. It is the fact that this last-minute, jam-it-through-before-Christmas deal, which will be less well-received than Clark Griswold’s membership in the Jelly-of-the-Month club, removes the ability for the incoming House Republican majority to roll back the Biden administration’s destructive policies until at least September of next year.

Spending bills are the primary legislative vehicles that Congress can use as leverage against a tyrannical executive branch. Shelby not only doesn’t care about giving the incoming House majority an opportunity to secure the border, fight inflation, lower energy costs and defang woke bureaucracies, he bragged that he is doing conservatives — and I suppose by extension all of us — a huge favor.

“If we’re successful, we’ll have probably done them a favor,” Shelby bragged to Politico. “There probably won’t be much thanks for it.”

On that, there is agreement. 

There won’t be much thanks for it. There won’t be much thanks from the struggling Alabama families who dip further into their savings as lame duck losers like Shelby spend away their hard-earned money. There won’t be much thanks from Alabama employers who face mounting interest rates, tightening labor markets and an emboldened IRS dedicated to targeting and harassing the “right” people to feed the federal beast. And there sure as hell won’t be much thanks from the Alabama parents who will bury their sons and daughters from fentanyl poisonings.

The best Shelby can hope for is a few one-finger salutes from the working people who he happily screwed over in his decades-long career cutting backroom deals for his corporate friends. The only silver lining is that Shelby will soon be ancient history — just a six-letter name associated with several four-letter words written on too many buildings around our beautiful state.

One of the running jokes on Capitol Hill is that there are three parties: Republicans, Democrats and appropriators. And appropriators are the most corrupt. Shelby has been all three.

The most disturbing aspect of Shelby’s legacy, however, is that we are now stuck with his hand-picked protégé — incoming Sen. Katie Britt — who will assuredly follow in his footsteps as she admittedly seeks a seat on the appropriations committee. Britt is signaling that she will spend all our money, cut every deal she can, reward her well-connected friends, supercharge a woke bureaucracy dedicated to its progressive religion and come home every six years behind a smile and a silver cross to convince voters she is truly one of us.

Alabama voters must demand actual conservative representation and stop prioritizing the “Well, she seems like such a nice person” schlock or we will continue to elect people who fleece us, and we will continue to reap a corrupt and weaponized federal government. 

Electing Republicans is simply not good enough. In fact, it’s arguable that it ever has been. We need real conservatives who are committed to fighting and defeating an increasingly radicalized Democrat party. And we needed them yesterday. 

Alabamans cannot let  Britt get away with continuing Shelby’s corrupt legacy. Alabama — and America — cannot afford another 36 years of Richard Shelby 2.0.

Drew White is a public policy consultant and former U.S. Senate staffer. He lives in Auburn with his wife and two children.


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