House Approves Budget Resolution
The House early Thursday voted 218-210 to approve the $2.8 trillion fiscal year 2007 budget resolution after Republican leaders promised GOP moderates to include an additional $3.1 billion in funds for health, labor and education programs, CQ Today reports.
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) reached the agreement with Republican moderates without an increase in the $873 billion discretionary spending cap proposed by President Bush. Under the agreement, at least $1 billion of the additional funds would come from unspent Iraq reconstruction funds and about $2 billion would come from unspecified spending reductions to other programs. The additional funds would result in a 2% increase in spending for labor, health and education programs.
Bush in his FY 2007 budget proposal recommended a $4 billion spending reduction for labor, health and education programs.
Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.), a leader of the Republican moderates, said that the additional funds would not result in spending reductions for Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps or other programs for low-income individuals (Dennis, CQ Today, 5/18).
The House budget resolution also excludes proposals by Bush to reduce spending for Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs (Fagan, Washington Times, 5/18). The House rejected an alternative budget resolution proposed by Democrats that would have increased funding for health care for veterans, medical research and other programs and would have allowed hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts to expire (Taylor, AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/18).
Passage of the budget resolution will allow the House to begin to address FY 2007 appropriations bills, although "it remains unlikely that the House and Senate will reach a bicameral deal on their competing budget plans," CQ Today reports (CQ Today, 5/18).
Boehner said that the budget resolution "strengthens our efforts to control spending and, coupled with a robust economy fueled by tax relief, is making real progress in driving down the deficit" (AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/18).
Castle said, "I do support the budget and, sure, I'd like to have the full loaf now, but I understand we're not there now." Castle said that Republican moderates would base their votes on individual appropriations bills on whether the promised additional funds are included, adding that the funds might come during conference with the Senate (CQ Today, 5/18).
House Appropriations Committee ranking member David Obey (D-Wis.) criticized Republican moderates for "selling out for a promise that ... some time in the deep, dark, distant future ... there might be a table scrap or two left for additional education or health care" (Cohn, CongressDaily, 5/18).
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, "This budget resolution is a continuation of the most reckless fiscal policies in the history of our nation, policies that have squandered a $5.6 trillion budget surplus, added more than $3 trillion to the national debt and weakened our ability to respond to national and international crises" (AP/Houston Chronicle, 5/18).