Democrats Mull Combining Three Major Spending Bills
Congressional Democrats have begun to "prep for a pre-Thanksgiving budget showdown" with President Bush, as lawmakers seek to finalize a more than $700 billion package that includes the fiscal year 2008 Defense (HR 3222), Labor-HHS-Education (HR 3043) and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (HR 2642) appropriations bills, CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 10/29).
The package includes about 70% of the total $955 billion in discretionary spending that Democrats seek for FY 2008 (California Healthline, 10/29).
House and Senate conferees plan to meet on Thursday after weeks of informal negotiations on the bills and hope to finalize the package by early next week (CongressDaily, 10/29).
Bush has threatened to veto the Labor-HHS-Education bill because the legislation exceeds his request for discretionary spending by $9 billion but has not threatened to veto the other two bills (Wayne/Graham-Silverman, CQ Today, 10/29).
According to CongressDaily, "Democrats have no guarantee of success with that strategy," as Bush "probably would veto the bill and House Republicans have demonstrated they have the votes to uphold vetoes," but they seek to "make it as difficult as possible" for the president to veto the legislation (CongressDaily, 10/29).
Democrats also "concede it could prove a confrontational gamble that risks alienating Republican moderates," the Wall Street Journal reports (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 10/30).
"Republicans are already panning" the package, "arguing it will not sell with the public or with members of its conference," CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 10/29).
White House officials said that the combination of the three appropriations bills in one package will not affect the willingness of Bush to veto the legislation (Wall Street Journal, 10/30).