Democrats Hope Omnibus Bill Draws Republican Support
Congressional Democrats this week have begun to draft an as much as $520 billion omnibus package that would combine the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043) and the 10 other unapproved FY 2008 appropriations bills in an effort to end the "budget stalemate" with President Bush, CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 12/5).
Last month, Congress failed to override a presidential veto of the Labor-HHS-Education bill. Bush later rejected a proposal from Democrats that would have reduced the amount of spending they sought for the FY 2008 budget. The proposal would have combined the 11 unapproved FY 2008 appropriations bills into a $484.2 billion omnibus package that would have divided the $22 billion difference between the amount of spending sought by Democrats and requested by Bush (California Healthline, 12/3).
Leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees have begun work on the details of the new package, with a House floor vote expected as early as Dec. 12.
Democrats hope that the "sheer size of the bill, with so many priorities for members on both sides of the aisle, might overcome objections" from Republicans, CongressDaily reports. Bush has threatened to veto the new package because of proposed increases in discretionary spending for domestic programs (CongressDaily, 12/5).
According to CQ Today, Democrats hope to "persuade Senate Republicans to press Bush to compromise on fiscal 2008 spending," and several Republicans "have shown a willingness to negotiate with Democrats as they press to provide more funding than Bush wants for domestic programs," although only "if a deal also would be made to provide funding for the Iraq War without conditions" (Clarke, CQ Today, 12/4). Republican leaders plan to meet with Bush to discuss the budget and other issues (CongressDaily, 12/5).
At a news conference on Tuesday, Bush criticized the "Democratic-controlled Congress for not getting more work done" on the budget, The Hill reports (Kaplan, The Hill, 12/5). Opposition from Bush and "the limited time left to complete work this year increase the likelihood that Democrats will have to pass another stopgap spending bill before the end of the month and deal with fiscal 2008 spending issues early next year," CQ Today reports (Clarke, CQ Today, 12/4).