Free Markets, Free People

Searching the Omnibus

Good luck searching through the omnibus spending bill:

The $500 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the most of federal government for the rest of the year will be debated in the House this week. And it has now finally been posted online.

It’s a PDF of scanned pages, meaning it can’t be searched or parsed in any other way. All 1,133 pages of it. Same with the 1,845-page explanatory statement.

That’s placing form over substance, putting a bill online in a useless format.

The bill combines spending for several agencies. On parts of the bill posted on the House Appropriations Committee website, you can literally handwritten notes and crossed out lines on various pages of the legislation. You can see an example on page 9 on the section of the bill dealing with appropriations for “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.”

You can still go through and find the pork, but the lack of a tool to search the document makes it more difficult.

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7 Responses to Searching the Omnibus

  • I was able to search those pdfs with no trouble.  Perhaps your pdf reader is not OS X.

  • Wow, the House did something inefficient.  I’m so surprised.

  • I was able to search it using Acrobat Pro 6 for OS X.  Not sure if other versions of Acrobat would work the same.  Maybe Windows versions or the free reader won’t search this type of PDF.

  • Or, you can go to and search for H.R. 1105. You’ll find the text of the bill in html format.

  • I know the free reader version I have doesn’t allow searching of scanned in documents.

    But, one has to wonder, why do they go through the trouble of printing it out, marking it up, and then scanning it in for public distribution.

    You Mac wizzes should know that’s a bunch of extra steps, when they ought to be able to print or save it directly to a PDF format.

    • “I know the free reader version I have doesn’t allow searching of scanned in documents”

      You know wrong. I use Windows and have a free copy of Acrobat Reader. You can search it. Type your search term in the find box.

  • Acrobat 8 and 9 for PC allows for searching through pdfs, I don’t think 7 for windows based systems does. FoxIt certainly doesn’t. Moreover, it has to be a specific type of pdf to search.