House Sustains Bush Veto of Labor-HHS-Education Bill
The House on Thursday on a 277-141 vote failed to override a presidential veto of a $606 billion fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education (HR 3043) appropriations bill, the Washington Post reports (Williamson, Washington Post, 11/16). Supporters of the bill failed to obtain the two-thirds majority required to override the veto by two votes (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 11/16).
President Bush said that he vetoed the bill, which includes $150.7 billion in discretionary spending, because the legislation exceeds his request for discretionary spending by $9.8 billion (California Healthline, 11/15). According to Roll Call, more than 140 House Republicans have signed a letter to promise to sustain any vetoes of appropriations bills.
Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "It's a curious position they've taken. They helped us write the bills. They put earmarks in the bills, they vote for the bills and then they have these symbolic procedural votes to say, 'But if it gets right down to it, we'll vote against these bills.' So I'm not sure where they are" (Pierce , Roll Call, 11/15).
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday announced a plan to combine the Labor-HHS-Education bill and the other 10 unapproved FY 2008 appropriations bills into a $484.2 billion omnibus package that would "split the difference" of $22 billion between the amount of spending sought by Democrats and requested by Bush, CongressDaily reports (Cohn, CongressDaily, 11/16).
According to the New York Times, with the announcement, "Reid practically dared Republicans to block the entire budget because the parties are divided over $11 billion out of nearly $1 trillion in overall spending" (Hulse, New York Times, 11/16). House and Senate clerks could begin to draft the package during the Thanksgiving recess in the event that Democrats and the White House can reach an agreement on the amount of spending (Wall Street Journal, 11/16).
However, the White House on Thursday "slammed the Democrats' plans, signaling that it will not accept an omnibus bill $11 billion above Bush's request," The Hill reports (Raju, The Hill, 11/16). Reid said that Congress likely would vote on the package between the Thanksgiving and holiday recesses (Pierce , Roll Call, 11/15).
In the event that Bush vetoes the package, Democrats might pass continuing resolutions to fund Cabinet departments and federal agencies at current levels for weeks or months (Taylor, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/16). "There is almost no chance Congress will approve all 12 of the annual spending bills individually," CQ Today reports (Clarke, CQ Today, 11/15).