President Bush Criticizes Democrats for Delayed Spending Bills
President Bush on Friday criticized Democrats for their failure to send him any of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2008, which began on Oct. 1, the Washington Post reports (Williamson, Washington Post, 10/27).
The House has approved all 12 of the FY 2008 appropriations bills, and the Senate has passed seven. The House and Senate have not resolved differences in the bills approved by both chambers (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 10/27). Cabinet departments and federal agencies since Oct. 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, have been operating on a continuing resolution (California Healthline, 10/18).
At a news conference, Bush said, "Today, Congress set a record they should not be proud of: October the 26th is the latest date in 20 years that Congress has failed to get a single annual appropriations bill to the president's desk" (Washington Post, 10/27). He added, "This is not what congressional leaders promised when they took control of Congress earlier this year," adding, "In January, one congressional leader declared, and I quote: 'No longer can we waste time here in the Capitol, while families in America struggle to get ahead.' He was right" (Curl, Washington Times, 10/27). In addition, Bush said that Congress needs to "stop wasting time and get essential work done on behalf of the American people" (AP/Boston Herald, 10/26).
In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "This Congress' record on fiscal discipline and meeting our national priorities sends the president this message: the days of the fiscally irresponsible Rubber Stamp Congress are over" (Washington Post, 10/27). She added, "The president fails to grasp a basic tenet of fiscal responsibility. You must pay for what you spend" (Los Angeles Times, 10/27).
According to CongressDaily, Democrats might send Bush about 70% of the total $955 billion in discretionary spending they seek for FY 2008 in one package that would include the Defense (HR 3222), Labor-HHS-Education (HR 3043) and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (HR 2642) appropriations bills. The move would place Bush in the "position of vetoing the $670 billion package over $10 billion Democrats added for education, health and welfare programs," CongressDaily reports. In addition, the move would place Republicans in a difficult position during a vote to override the veto, according to CongressDaily (Cohn, CongressDaily, 10/26). However, "Bush might come out on the winning end under this scenario if he is able to convince the public, and enough Republicans, that Democrats are holding troops' and veterans' funds hostage in exchange for pork," CongressDaily reports (Cohn/Goode, CongressDaily, 10/29).
Democrats have scheduled formal negotiations to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bills for Nov. 1, with floor votes expected as early as the week of Nov. 5. In the event that Democrats do not combine the discretionary spending in the three appropriations bills into one package, they likely will first send Bush the Labor-HHS-Education bill (Clarke, CQ Today, 10/26).
Bush has threatened to veto the bill because the legislation exceeds his request for discretionary spending by $22 billion. According to the Post, "Another continuing resolution looks likely, and some in both parties predict the spending saga will drag into January," a move that would "increase the risk that, in the end, Democrats will have to merge unfinished bills into a single omnibus, whose hundreds of pages would blur their domestic agenda and hand Republicans a coup" (Washington Post, 10/27).