WASHINGTON, DC—Responding to concerns that time is running out and deals like this don't come around every day, the U.S. Senate held an emergency session Tuesday to approve an appropriations bill that would allocate $460 billion toward the nation's can't-miss Labor Day weekend sales.
Rushed through the Senate in the middle of the night, S. 9037, also known as the Must Act Now Act, authorizes the federal government to take full advantage of sensational savings on select and already reduced merchandise. Besides earmarking $250 billion alone for much-needed back-to-school clothing, the bill also provides for the purchase of marked-down washing machines, dishwashers, bedding, bath towels, oscillating fans, and much, much more.
"We have credible evidence of sales, sales, sales," said Appropriations Committee chair Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), who stressed Congress' essential role in raising public awareness of discounts too great to pass up. "In all my years in the Senate, I have never seen a bargain blowout quite like this. I would be doing a grave disservice to the American people if I did not fully acknowledge that there has never been a better time to buy."
The Senate Subcommittee on Bargain Hunting spent several months investigating Sunday newspaper supplements and in-store sales fliers and concluded that the most serious deals would most likely take place on or around September 3. Legislators returned early from their August recess to vote an overwhelming 84-9 in favor of the bill, arguing that it would be fiscally irresponsible to miss the chance to take 10 to 75 percent off children's and misses' apparel, casual footwear, matching sleeper sofas and love seats, and the lowest prices of the season on housewares, including unbeatable clearances on most KitchenAid cookware and appliances.
"According to this circular obtained by members of my staff, all summer sale merchandise is to be discounted an additional 30 percent," said bill sponsor Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), holding aloft what appeared to be a colorful newspaper insert. "If this information is reliable, and I believe it is, then I say there's no point in the public paying full price for hot summertime must-haves like garden tools, Weber grills, all Coppertone and Banana Boat–brand sunscreen, and family swimwear, when, come Labor Day, they'll be a virtual steal."
"Look at these Rockport-brand oxfords I'm wearing," Nelson added, lifting one leg and pointing to his foot. "I bought them at the last Labor Day sale for an amazing $59.99, over half off the original price. Plus, we really need new sheets, and now is the time to buy. As a nation, we can't afford not to."
Though President Bush is expected to sign the spending-stimulus package into law, opponents of the bill continue their strenuous objections to the enormous expenditures, insisting that the nation already has everything it needs and then some. Others say that the 2007 federal budget allotted no money for amazing sales spectaculars, and that the Senate could wait until next year to allocate the necessary funds, since the country won't have to pay for its purchases for a full six months anyhow.
"Why do we need 200,000 deck chairs?" asked Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), a leading critic of "runaway spending," who also claimed that many discounts will not be immediately felt since they are in mail-in rebate form and will not be received for another eight to 12 weeks. "The country already has perfectly good patio furniture."