Democrats Reconsider Budget Plan After Bush Veto Threat
House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) on Monday decided not to introduce a $522 billion omnibus budget package that would have included the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043) and the 10 other unapproved FY 2008 appropriations bills, as well as additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reports (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 12/10).
The package would have exceeded the amount of domestic spending requested by President Bush by $11 billion, about half the amount sought by Democrats (Weisman, Washington Post, 12/11).
According to the Washington Times, Obey decided not to introduce the package after the White House threatened to veto the proposal (Miller, Washington Times, 12/11).
Democrats had planned to include in the package about $70 billion in funds for the wars in exchange for support from Republicans and the White House on the additional domestic spending (Taylor, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/11).
Obey said, "Short of having somebody in authority sit down and say, 'OK, we will work out a reasonable compromise,' I don't see any point in prolonging the agony." He added, "I don't see how we have any choice but to go to the president's numbers on appropriations to make clear that we aren't going to link the war with token funding on the domestic side" (Taylor, AP/Boston Herald, 12/10).
Obey said that he will introduce a revised $933 billion package that would include the 11 unapproved appropriations bills with the amount of domestic spending requested by Bush (Cohn, CongressDaily, 12/11). The package would eliminate earmarks for funds inserted by lawmakers and some Bush priorities, such as additional funds for the wars.
According to Keith Ashdown, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, the package would cut about 9,500 home-district and home-state projects worth a total of $9.5 billion, 40% of which Republicans had inserted. "Obey would not specify where the remaining billions would come from to reach Bush's bottom line, beyond saying the money would be shaved from the president's priorities," but one "possibility would be funding for abstinence education," the Post reports.
According to the Post, House Republican leaders likely would support the package, and, although "rank-and-file lawmakers from both parties could revolt," most "Republicans are expected to fall in line, as the GOP leadership pushes to regain the mantle of small-government conservatism" (Washington Post, 12/11). The package could require Congress to remain in session until near Christmas (CongressDaily, 12/11).
Obey said, "If anybody thinks there's any longer a chance of us being done here by the 14th, they're smoking something. I think it's a question of: Do we get out of here by the 22nd?" (Clarke/Higa, CQ Today, 12/10).