MoveOn pressures Dems to block military funding; Update: GOP brings the heat on omnibus spending bill; House Dems pull budget offer
Update 12/11 10:52am Eastern. Boehner on Dems: “They need to get their act together, now.”
Update 12/11 8:00am Eastern. Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (R-FL) and other GOP leaders will hold a press conference to discuss the Democrats’ massive “Omnibus” spending bill Tomorrow today at 10:30am.
The Examiner advises President Bush: “Don’t go wobbly.”
And the House Dems pulled their budget offer last night, reports WaPo:
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.
Well, I told you last week that the nutroots weren’t going to be happy with the Democrat leadership over its latest retreat from demanding an Iraq withdrawal timetable. Now comes word that MoveOn has launched a pressure campaign today demanding that Democrat presidential candidates filibuster the Dems’ omnibus spending bill over inclusion of military funding for the Army and Afghanistan operations.
Democratic congressional leaders could have a tough time convincing some anti-war Democrats to back a $522 billion year-end spending bill that includes money for the military, should that money be used for the war in Iraq. MoveOn.org made their job a bit harder Monday by calling on Democratic presidential candidates to filibuster it in the Senate.
“Americans elected a Democratic Congress in 2006 to end the war in Iraq. A blank check for billions in war funding moves us in the wrong direction,” said Nita Chaudhary, Campaign Director on Iraq for MoveOn. “Majority Leader Reid and the Democratic leadership should hold the line they’ve drawn: no war funding without a timeline to end the war.”
Democrats have included $31 billion in the bill for operations in Afghanistan and for additional equipment, according to the Wall Street Journal. The bill will have an additional $17 billion for the Army, and the Washington Post reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will try to get that number as high as $70 billion when the legislation makes its way over the Senate.
MoveOn.org will deliver petitions Monday asking the Democratic senators running for president to filibuster the bill if it does not include a timetable for withdrawal. The petitions were signed by 15,000 veterans and military families and will be sent to the offices of Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Barack Obama of Illinois.
“The Senators who are running for President have talked a lot about their leadership on Iraq — now’s the time for them to show it by blocking this bad deal,” said Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org’s Executive Director. “The 3.3 million members of MoveOn will be watching the candidates and Congress very closely.”
Like MoveOn says: “We bought it, we own it, and we’re going to take it back.”
Keep an eye on the internecine warfare. MoveOn.org’s campaign aside, there are other reasons to dislike the omnibus spending bill.
The WSJ counts some of the ways:
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On the $522 billion omnibus spending bill, the White House was quick to threaten a veto even before reading it. Yet in an apparent effort to keep channels open, Mr. Bush’s chief of staff, Josh Bolten, called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) on Saturday to warn him of the forthcoming statement by budget director Jim Nussle.
Mr. Nussle argued that the proposed bill is $18 billion over the president’s budget and accused Democrats of trying to “leverage troop funding for more pork-barrel spending.”
The $18 billion estimate reflects $7.4 billion added to the bill in emergency funds outside the budget. Of that $7.4 billion, $2 billion is money directly requested by the State Department, and an additional $3 billion is for a Republican-backed border-security initiative, for which the Department of Homeland Security has already come to Congress with plans on how to allocate the funds.
Mr. Reid said the administration — not Democrats — is using Iraq to gain leverage. And many Democrats argue that the party would be stronger now if it hadn’t stumbled into a situation where Iraq funding is again attached to the domestic budget.
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