White House Pissed Dems Didn't Fall for GOP Prank

After their monumental loss in the November midterms, Republicans decided to disrupt the incoming Democratic majorities by passing off the responsibility for enacting fiscal year 2007 spending bills to the next Congress rather than completing them during the lame duck session, as would be customary when they were not yet finished at that point. In effect, by dumping this responsibility on the Democrats -- a responsibility that would take countless man-hours in Congress -- Republicans could make it near impossible for the Democrats to move forward with their agenda at the rapid pace they prefer.

In response, Democratic appropriations chairmen from both chambers -- Robert Byrd in the Senate, David Obey in the House -- came together with a plan to make sure that the government was funded through September 30 (the end of the current fiscal year) so that they could prepare fresh appropriations bills for the next fiscal year and still have time to pass key portions of the party platform, most notably those contained in the "100 Hours" agenda. To make the plan even more politically beneficial for the Democrats, Byrd and Obey declared that the continuing resolution would be devoid of earmarks, a move that will no doubt play well to the ears of good government types and budget hawks alike.

Unsurprisingly, the President is unhappy the Democrats didn't fall for the Republican trip, as CQ's midday update email reports.

The White House has reacted warily to the Democrats' proposal for finishing off the fiscal 2007 spending bills with a long-term continuing resolution that would wipe out earmarks.

The GOP-led Congress cleared only two of the 11 annual spending bills, frustrating Democrats who wanted to begin the new session with a clean slate. The incoming Appropriations Committee chairmen, Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., announced Monday that they would move a continuing resolution (CR) for the balance of the 2007 fiscal year, one that would contain no earmarks.

Unlike the three stopgap spending measures that Congress has already cleared, the next one will not set funding at the lowest of the House-passed, Senate-passed or fiscal 2006 spending levels. Instead it will make "limited adjustments" allowing appropriators to provide more money for priorities such as health, education and veterans' medical care.

Rob Portman, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, called the long-term CR "disappointing" in a statement issued late yesterday. But he said the White House "will certainly work with the agencies and the Congress to ensure there are no major disruptions to essential government services."

The only thing disappointing about this move for the White House is that the Democrats weren't stupid enough to fall for their tricks. This was clearly a shrewd move by the Democrats, who are already using their experience and understanding of parliamentary tactics to run circles around the Republicans -- even before they have taken over the reins of Congress.

Tags: 110th congress, appropriations, Democrats, Republicans (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

Re: White House Pissed Dems Didn't Fall for GOP Pr

The Democrats are "disappointing"?

How about the clowns who didn't pass a budget before closing the Congressional session?

The thing is, Portman probably believes the nonsense he's saying.

by RickD 2006-12-12 12:01PM | 0 recs
Bravo.

Dems need to be implacable in not playing the marauding Republicans' game.

by boadicea 2006-12-12 12:08PM | 0 recs
Wow! MSM spins for Dems for once!

They've spun enough fairy stories on behalf of the regime, after all!

But - I don't believe the hype.

A more likely parsing of events would be that the GOP, feeling that their time as the majority was running out, saw no need to spend time bickering amongst themselves on apps bills that they could leave to the Dems.

(If a miracle had happened - well, they'd have been no worse off.)

By putting FY07 on the tab, as it were, by agreeing a CR running to February 15, the GOP got the closest to no muss no fuss that they could manage.

The idea that this was some great victory won by the Dems is, I suspect, something of a stretcher.

And the CR covering the whole of FY07 to be passed in the 110th - as per the Byrd/Obey statement - while thoroughly laudable in itself - must have stuck in the Appalachian porkmeister's craw:

There will be no Congressional earmarks in the joint funding resolution that we will pass.

The bad news:
Earmarks included in this year's House and Senate bills will be eligible for consideration in the 2008 process, subject to new standards for transparency and accountability. We will work to restore an accountable, above-board, transparent process for funding decisions and put an end to the abuses that have harmed the credibility of Congress.

Will Cyclops have a hand in devising that process, by any chance?

The extent of the commitment to eradicating these boils on the ass of the body politic may be judged by the comment of one old-timer:

"The thing is, one person's armark, wasteful spending, [when] defined by the person who's proposing it, is neither pork nor wasteful," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who will rejoin the Appropriations panel next year. "It's a question of how you define these things."

As Mr Dooley once said, speaking (as it were) for TR:

"Th' thrusts," says he to himsilf, "are heejous monsthers built up be th' inlightened intherprise iv th' men that have done so much to advance pro-gress in our beloved counthry," he says. "On wan hand I wud stamp thim undher fut; on th' other hand not so fast."

Uncle Harry joined in the dudgeon:
"One could get mad, but I'm going to try not to. I'm going to try to be patient," incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters last week. He echoed Byrd and Obey's intentions to rein in the explosive growth of earmarks, which many Republicans believe shattered their fiscally conservative image.

Again, one has to say, not so fast.

Because who was it who snuck in a nifty piece of legislative jiggery pokery as a rider (alluded to in, but not explained by, the Hill piece) to one of the tax omnibuses that passed at the death of the 109th?

Why - Lordy, Lordy! - 'twas Uncle Harry himself, with (piece yesterday) the White Pine County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act.

As I suggested, it wasn't quite clear what this animal was - I hesitated even to mention the G-word, for lack of actual evidence.

But, whatever it was, it certainly was an egregiously devious and sneaky way of legislating.

So - the takeaway is, Thank God for an earmark-free FY.

(Just for the avoidance of doubt, and to put in a word of unalloyed celebration, this is huge and a big plus for the Dem-controlled 110th!)

But how exactly is the pent-up bipartisan lust for pork going to be controlled when it comes to the FY08 apps bills?

Watch this space.

by skeptic06 2006-12-12 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Wow! MSM spins for Dems for once!

The idea that this was some great victory won by the Dems is, I suspect, something of a stretcher.

I think the spin is actually genuine surprise.

It's been twelve years. Nobody's had a clue what the Dems would do if they actually had some power, let alone that they would act like adults and actually take care of the business of running the country. Aren't they just supposed to fight for liberal causes like the right to sit in trees while smoking 'shrooms, and free gay sex on every street corner?

I imagine the article writers are astounded to see such competence in government for a change, and doubly so that it's the Dems doing it. Dems are supposed to be disorganized, at minimum. The last valid reference point anybody has for Dem leadership is in the 80's, which was not a happy time for Dems in general.

by lightyearsfromhome 2006-12-12 05:06PM | 0 recs
Thank you Democrats!

This is one reason to NOT have term limits.  The experience of these Democrats is what led them to do this and what has pissed of the gdub clan.

BRAVO!

by kevin22262 2006-12-12 01:00PM | 0 recs
Drive that wedge!

Harry Reid and the Democrats have found some unlikely supporters in Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK).

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/poli tics/4395629.html

If the Democrats can establish themselves as the party of fiscal responsiblity in the eyes of the public, I'm all for that.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear some people start to talk about how "the Republican Party left them" if they do.

by wayward 2006-12-12 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: White House Pissed Dems Didn't Fall for GOP Pr

I bet the rethugs are just going nuts over the earmark thing

by vwcat 2006-12-12 06:03PM | 0 recs
Re: White House Pissed Dems Didn't Fall for GOP Pr

Why pass a budget for every fiscal year? Why not have one budget per congress? It seems like that would make the most sense, given the way the budget process gets screwed up every year.

by Gpack3 2006-12-12 07:00PM | 0 recs
Re: White House Pissed Dems Didn't Fall for GOP Pr

With due humility may I point out I called this one in November, right here on MYDD

Re: C-Span Washington Journal on Monday (none / 0)

   A minor suggestion you might offer. Since the Republicans left the budget approval to the next Congress, the Democrats should strip out EVERY set aside and send the thing forward post haste. True some D set asides will go away, but think of the message.

by Eli Rabett on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 08:21:10 PM EST

by Eli Rabett 2006-12-13 03:00AM | 0 recs

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