Dec 12, 2007

Pelosi backs down in spending battle

By Alexander Bolton,
December 12, 2007

In the face of stiff opposition from powerful fellow Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has abandoned a proposal she supported less than 24 hours ago to eliminate lawmakers’ earmarks from the omnibus spending package.

Pelosi told the Democratic chairmen of the House Appropriations subcommittees, the so-called appropriations cardinals, that earmarks would stay in the omnibus and that Democratic leaders would accede to cut spending to levels demanded by President Bush in order to save 11 spending bills from a veto, said sources familiar with a meeting that took place in Pelosi’s office early Wednesday morning.

The House Democrats’ tentative plan is to finalize the package for passage in the next day or so, said sources.

By leaving earmarks largely untouched and agreeing to Bush’s budget ceiling, Democrats have capitulated in their spending battle with Republicans. In the end, Democrats realized they would not be able to muster enough Republican votes to override Bush’s veto. The president vowed to reject any spending package that exceeded the $933 billion limit he set.

The good news for Democrats is that this move takes them significantly closer to enacting into law their spending priorities on a range of domestic issues.

“We are going to meet our national priorities long ignored by Republicans and the Bush administration,” said Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami.

As recently as Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi endorsed House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey’s (D-Wis.) proposal to yank all earmarks from the omnibus in order to save an estimated $9.5 billion. The money would have been used to minimize cuts to domestic programs important to Democrats.

When asked Tuesday afternoon if Obey’s plan was off the table, Pelosi replied: “Not from my standpoint.”

Walking into a meeting between the Democratic Senate and House leaderships, Pelosi said she thought Obey’s plan was “great.”

A Democratic aide also said Tuesday that Pelosi supported the proposal to eliminate earmarks.

Pelosi, however, ran into stiff opposition from her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who served as the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee before becoming Senate Democratic leader.

The Nevada senator declined to endorse Obey’s proposal when asked about it at a press conference Tuesday.

Reid said he would be happy to hear what Obey had to say but also defended his right as a lawmaker to earmark funds for his home state.

“Without getting into a lot of detail, I really am focused on the Congress. I think we have equal say as to what should be spent in our states. I think that I have as much right — in fact, far more, because I know more — than Jim Nussle has to determine what money should be spent in the state of Nevada,” he said, referring to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. “This should not all come from the White House.”

Pelosi also faced strong opposition from the Democratic chairmen of the House Appropriations subcommittees, who in some cases had been waiting through 12 years of Republican control to finally wield a gavel on spending decisions.

Pelosi assuaged their concerns Wednesday morning by informing them that earmarks would not be cut and spending would be pared to the president’s levels to smooth the way for the omnibus to pass. Many government programs have had to subsist on a year-long stopgap spending measure because Congress failed to pass a slew of spending bills in 2006 and many lawmakers want to avoid that happening again.

[Just when you thought it couldn't get worse. We're keeping the earmarks and the president's spending limit. I wonder where the cuts will be.]


Eric said...

Pinky and the Gus,

Thanks for giving me a single site where I can go to keep up on this developing news.

Anonymous said...

LANL's online SSP application presentation had a vugraph that showed Bush's cut for LANL would amount to $80 million. The House cut was around $120 million or so. I'm assuming these were "real" cuts, and not just money for new buildings.

Bottom line, I think you can now plan on seeing about $80 million in real cuts for LANL. Mike has said that the 750 staff reduction would help covered for about $100 M in new costs brought about by the LLC transition. Therefore, you can assume that the $80 million in additional FY08 budget cuts will create the need for another 600 additional layoffs on top of the 750 already announced.

It may break out like this:

* 400 SSP'ers for Phase1 (~50 of 450 will backout)

* 350 RIF'ed for Phase2

* 600 RIF'ed for Phase3

Total number of RIFees would be 950, or about 9% of LANL's workforce. This comes just barely under the 10% layoff limit that Mike said would harm LANL and keep it from meeting deliverables and operating safely.

Some of the 950 will come from Limited Term and Half-time staff (maybe around 200?).

Keep in mind that these are just projections. We'll soon see the actual results. Depending on the makeup and attitudes of the new Congress and President after Nov08, we could see additional cuts in future years.

Anonymous said...

Scanning over the Senate's Energy & Water Bill "Earmark" spreadsheet from

LANL gets over $202 million for earmark projects = TA-55 ($6M), Classified Vaults ($45M), Rad Liquid Waste Facility ($26M), CMR Facility Replacement ($95M) and Criticality Experiments Facility ($29M).... I saw $3M for a project a Sandia and nothing for LLNL... I guess it pays to have the New Mexican Senate delegation over both sides of the Energy & Water committee.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Thanks, I missed those!

Anonymous said...

3:16, those sound mostly construction related?

Anonymous said...

$202M is quite a bit of earmark funds for LANL.

We will never see this if Udall replaces St. Pit.

Anonymous said...

Interesting 1:33, plausible numbers that bring up the possibility that rescission of an SSP election might be a good strategy.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't sign the rescission form just yet. House minority leader Boehner (R-OH), has broken ranks with the White House by endorsing "emergency spending" measures that proposes $7.4B over the White House budget, not quite as much as the Dems would like but still more than the Bush administration had stated would be approved.

According to the Columbia Daily Herald (, nuclear labs don't appear in the roles as an 'emergency' in need of rescue alongside border security, foreign aid & State Dept ops in Iraq & Afghanistan, drought relief, heating subsidies, firefighting accounts and food programs for women and children.

Anonymous said...

the cuts will be in weapons programs

Anonymous said...

Hey Gus,

I need to apoligize on my comments. I spent some time finding credible links to the albert - dreska fiaso due to your comments. i was quite disappointed in the fact that you refused to post those witout comment. I was born in LA to a Fellow and the rape and fornication of LANL makes me sick. I want to do something, but do not know what. Please take the pudfucker into consideration.

Anonymous said...

"3:16, those sound mostly construction related?" - 4:54 PM

Indeed they do, my good boy, indeed they do.

But tell me, are you really all that surprised? After all, Bechtel is known for building stuff. We don't manage labs full of pointy-headed scientists.

- Riley P. Bechtel

Anonymous said...

T-Division is getting ready to do a re-org as a means to adjust for the coming layoffs. Likewise, X-Division is also heavily into re-org mode. The chairs on the ship's deck appear to be moving about in preparation for the approaching iceberg. No worry, though, as the iceberg appears to be rather small. I'm sure we can maneuver safely beside it with the steady hand of NNSA on the helm and the help of Congress.

Anonymous said...

"Senator Dominici entered and the room became hushed. He is quite respected as a senior statesman."

While respecting the no comment condition on the post above, I believe his name is spelled Domenici.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/12/07 9:59 writes of reorganizations in T and X Divisions.
Any competent LANS manager knows that when it times of tight budgets, more managers are needed to more carefully manage the reduced funds. And, since that is hard work they will need to be paid more and will certainly earn bonuses.

Anonymous said...

During the last election, the Democrats complained about the deficit growth that had taken place under Bush and the Republican Congress. Now they want to increase spending.

They can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

5:29 am: "They can't have it both ways."

Of course they can. They have two sides to their mouths, don't they?

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

To: 12/12/07 9:39 PM

Regarding your apology, thanks. The whole Albert - Dreska business turned completely ugly so I deleted the posts.