Bush Signs Omnibus, Criticizes Earmarks
President Bush on Dec. 26, 2007, signed into law a $555 billion omnibus spending bill but criticized Congress for including nearly 10,000 earmarks, worth about $10 billion, the Washington Post reports (Gardner, Washington Post, 12/27/07).
The package includes the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill and the 10 other FY 2008 appropriations bills, as well as $11.2 billion in emergency funds and $70 billion in additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Labor-HHS-Education section of the package includes $600.1 billion in total spending and $145.1 billion in discretionary spending. The package in large part meets the overall spending levels of the $932.8 billion requested by Bush but shifts billions of dollars to health care and other priorities supported by Democrats (California Healthline, 12/21/07).
Bush in a statement said, "I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation, including abandoning the goal I set early this year to reduce the number and cost of earmarks by half" (Marre, The Hill, 12/26/07). He said, "These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful government spending."
Bush praised the bill for not including any new taxes and for providing adequate funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without "arbitrary timelines for withdrawal" from Iraq (Washington Post, 12/27/07). Bush added that there "is still more to be done to rein in government spending" and noted that his fiscal year 2009 budget proposal will "once again restrain spending, keep taxes low and continue us on a path towards a balanced budget" (Feller, AP/Boston Globe, 12/27/07).
White House spokesperson Scott Stanzel said that Bush expects Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle to examine the earmarks to determine where cuts can be made (Washington Post, 12/27/07).