Senate Approves 2008 Budget Package With Bush Requests
The Senate on Tuesday voted 76-17 to approve a $555 billion omnibus budget package, "shortly after bowing to President Bush's demand for $70 billion in unrestricted funds" for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Washington Post reports (Kane/Weisman, Washington Post, 12/19).
The package, which the House passed on Monday, includes the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill and the 10 other unapproved FY 2008 appropriations bills. The Labor-HHS-Education section of the package includes $600.1 billion in total spending and $145.1 billion in discretionary spending. The package in large part meets spending levels requested by Bush but shifts billions of dollars to priorities supported by Democrats (California Healthline, 12/19).
The Senate on Tuesday also voted 70-25 to add $70 billion to the package for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The package approved by the House included only $31 billion for the war in Afghanistan (Cohn, CongressDaily, 12/19). The addition of the funds for the wars "was a bitter pill" for most Democrats, but efforts to avoid the move were "doomed in the face of a Bush veto promise and a filibuster by Senate Republicans," according to the AP/Chicago Tribune (Taylor, AP/Chicago Tribune, 12/19).
Democrats also were "not happy with having to ... hew to the president's limit on spending," but they were able to "steer money to their priorities, win some spending against White House wishes and complete all the spending bills, which they saw as a victory in itself," according to the New York Times (Hulse, New York Times, 12/19). Meanwhile, Bush and Republicans "obtained much of what they wanted, although there was grumbling from some about overall spending levels, budget priorities, home-state earmarks and policy rides," CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 12/19).
The House on Wednesday will vote a final time on the package to consider the additional funds for the wars approved by the Senate. The expected final passage of the package by the House would "represent the final step in sealing a deal between Democrats and Bush over how much money to provide domestic agencies whose budgets are set each year by Congress," according to the AP/Tribune (AP/Chicago Tribune, 12/19). White House spokesperson Dana Perino said that Bush likely would sign the package (Clarke/Higa, CQ Today, 12/18).