Dec 11, 2007

Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire

A lot of folks thought some budget numbers would be available today. Instead we're in for further days or even weeks of uncertainty. And the funding levels that were hoped for today are likely to be further reduced.

House Democrats Pull Budget Offer

The GOP Is Negotiating In Bad Faith, Obey Says

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2007; Page A03

A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse last night after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith.

Instead, Obey said he will push a huge spending bill that would hew to the president's spending limit by stripping it of all lawmakers' pet projects, as well as most of the Bush administration's top priorities. It would also contain no money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Absent a Republican willingness to sit down and work out a reasonable compromise, I think we ought to end the game and go to the president's numbers," Obey said. "I was willing to listen to the argument that we ought to at least add more for Afghanistan, but when the White House refuses to compromise, when the White House continues to stick it in our eye, I say to hell with it."

House Democratic leaders were scheduled to complete work last night on a $520 billion spending bill that included $11 billion in funding for domestic programs above the president's request, half of what Democrats had initially approved. The bill would have also contained $30 billion for the war in Afghanistan, upon which the Senate would have added billions more for Iraq before final congressional approval.

But a stern veto threat this weekend from White House budget director Jim Nussle put the deal in jeopardy, and Obey said he is prepared for a long standoff with the White House.

"If anybody thinks we can get out of here this week, they're smoking something illegal," he said.

Obey's proposal would ax about 9,500 home-district and home-state projects worth a total of $9.5 billion, according to Keith Ashdown, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group. Republicans inserted about 40 percent of those projects. Not all of that money could be eliminated, however. The budget of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is parceled out as home-district projects, and Congress has no intention of eliminating the Army Corps.

Obey would not specify where the remaining billions would come from to reach Bush's bottom line, beyond saying the money would be shaved from the president's priorities. One possibility would be funding for abstinence education.

Other targets could be nuclear weapons research and development in the Energy Department,

NASA programs and high-technology border security efforts that have come under criticism for being wasteful and ineffective, said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

[View the full story here.]


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The Dems are holding cards that looks increasingly weak to many political observers. Pelosi's gambit is not going to work and Dems up for re-election are beginning to worry that public perception of the budget mess will hurt them in the upcoming elections.

You can expect that nothing will be done with the FY08 budget until early next year (early Feb?), when the delays will begin having some serious consequences. At that point, the Dems will be forced to cave in and the budget roadblock will be cleared.

What's really depressing about all this is that both parties have dug in their heels when we're talking about only around 2% of the budget being in "play". Unfortunately, LANL and NNSA are in that pivotal 2%.