Senate To Take Up Revised Omnibus Spending Package
The Senate as early as Thursday plans to consider a $522 billion omnibus budget package that would include the fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043) and the 10 other unapproved FY 2008 appropriations bills, CongressDaily reports.
The House had planned to consider the package as early as Tuesday, but House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) decided not to introduce the proposal after the White House threatened to veto the plan (Cohn, CongressDaily, 12/12). The package would have exceeded the amount of domestic spending requested by President Bush by $11 billion, about half the amount sought by Democrats.
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. The revised package would eliminate earmarks for funds inserted by lawmakers and most Bush priorities, such as funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (California Healthline, 12/11).
Obey on Tuesday instructed House Appropriations subcommittee chairs to begin to find areas to reduce spending in the appropriations bills over which they have jurisdiction to reach the amounts requested by Bush for the revised package (CongressDaily, 12/12). However, the elimination of earmarks in the revised package "could prove particularly problematic from some members of Congress who face tough re-election battles in 2008 and tout the earmarked funding to show constituents how effective they are on Capitol Hill," according to The Hill (Raju, The Hill, 12/12).
Senate Democratic leaders, who oppose the revised package, consider the original package the "best way to get the process moving" and plan to make the proposal a "vehicle for further negotiations," CongressDaily reports. According to CongressDaily, individuals familiar with the situation "indicated there is potential for agreement at a budget cap that adds between $7 billion and $9 billion to Bush's budget and drops policy riders Republicans oppose."
The current lack of agreement on the budget likely will require Congress to pass a third continuing resolution that would fund at current levels the budgets of most Cabinet departments and federal agencies for an additional week. Congress likely will consider the new CR on Thursday or Friday, when the current CR expires (Higa/Clarke, CQ Today, 12/11).
C-SPAN video of a House Republican news conference on the omnibus spending bill is available online. Participants included House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Conference Chair Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) and other Republican leaders (C-SPAN, 12/11).