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Fight on the Right: Conservatives battle massive omnibus spending bill

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By Michelle Malkin  •  September 16, 2011 10:05 AM

You might want to sit down when you read this. Do a few breathing exercises. Inhale. Exhale.

Ready?

The GOP leadership is readying a $1 trillion continuing resolution for passage next week — packaged as an omnibus mega-vehicle rolling up a dozen different annual appropriations bills — that would cover through November 18, 2011.

Here it is:

FY12CR FY11914(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

A Capitol Hill source says it’s at least $24 billion higher than the House-passed budget.

Note also that Section 105 of the debt ceiling bill the GOP agreed to includes language granting Budget chairmen in House and Senate the authority to go in themselves independently of any subsequent legislation and reconcile the budget:

SEC. 105. AMENDMENTS TO THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET AND IMPOUNDMENT CONTROL ACT OF 1974.

(a) ADJUSTMENTS.—Section 314 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 is amended as follows:

(1) Strike subsection (a) and insert the following:

‘‘(a) ADJUSTMENTS.—After the reporting of a bill or joint resolution or the offering of an amendment thereto or the submission of a conference report thereon, the chairman of the Committee on the Budget of the House of Representatives or the Senate may make appropriate budgetary adjustments of new budget authority and the outlays flowing therefrom in the same amount as required by section 251(b) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.’’.

Fiscal conservatives in the House are raising their voices.

Via Politico:

Reversing their past rhetoric, House Republicans are actively considering plans to bundle the 12 annual appropriations bills into a single omnibus package that meets spending targets set in the August budget accord and can be enacted before the December showdown over further deficit reduction.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was described as still nervous about the strategy, given the resistance he risks from conservatives and his own past criticism of such big budget packages. But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told POLITICO, “I don’t think we have any choice,” and expects to meet with his Senate counterparts next week to explore this approach.

…As introduced this week, the 17-page House stopgap bill provides a $3.65 billion package of disaster aid and then uses a combination of funding transfers and across-the-board cuts to stay within spending targets for 2011 and 2012.

An estimated $1 billion in emergency funds is provided for the remainder of this fiscal year, given the dire straits of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster reserve, down to $351 million Thursday. But that would be offset with monies taken from an advanced technology program for the auto industry, and in 2012 all agencies but FEMA will be subject to a 1.5 percent cut to stay within the $1.043 trillion cap set in August.

Nonetheless, that target is itself controversial for many on the right. And led by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), 52 House Republicans signed onto a letter — released Thursday — that urges Boehner to press for greater savings and treat the August agreement as a spending ceiling and not a spending floor.

As you all know, massive omnibus spending packages are inevitable, hide-the-pork monstrosities. The conservative Republican Study Committee is gearing up to offer an alternative to hold the spending line. Via Roll Call:

House conservatives are gearing up for a fight with Democrats and their own leadership over the size of the upcoming continuing resolution, even as Republican leaders soften their rhetoric regarding President Barack Obama.

Conservatives, unhappy that last month’s debt limit deal included significantly higher budget levels than those included in Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget, are demanding the CR — and a subsequent omnibus spending measure — stick to Ryan’s numbers rather than those agreed to in the debt deal.

But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other leaders are in no mood for another budget battle, and the Appropriations Committee is expected to produce a CR that runs through November that meets the budget levels set in the debt deal.

But the Republican Study Committee — which squared off with Boehner during the debt deal in a losing effort to force deeper cuts — is considering submitting its own CR and actively opposing the appropriations bill.

“We’re looking at options,” an aide to a conservative lawmaker said last week, adding that “there’s a good chance conservatives will put forward a version of the CR” based either on the Ryan budget or possibly the RSC’s even leaner budget.

…Flake and GOP Reps. Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Tom Graves (Ga.), also appropriators, are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to Boehner, Cantor and Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky.) demanding they keep to the Ryan budget levels.

“We write to remind you that the spending cap for Fiscal Year 2012 included in the debt limit deal is a spending ceiling and not a spending floor,” the trio writes.

Flake and other conservatives point out that the House has already passed several spending bills this year that use Ryan’s budget as a baseline, and they argue that passing a CR at the debt deal levels would be voting for an increase in spending.

“The House simply cannot push the level of discretionary spending for the coming year upwards as its first action after the extended debt ceiling debate,” they write.

Is the call for limited government just another political slogan or do Republican leaders mean it?

Watch their actions, not their words.

Stay tuned…

***

Update: GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has announced his opposition to the 2012 appropriations bills…

Senator Ron Johnson (WI) today explained his decision to vote against three 2012 appropriations bills: the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, and the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. Johnson said:

“The debt ceiling agreement “deemed” a fiscal year 2012 budget passed, and set discretionary spending at $1,043 billion for next year. Discretionary spending represents approximately 30 percent of the total federal budget and is the only part of the budget subject to the appropriations process. The remaining 70% consists of entitlements and other mandatory spending, all of which are growing on automatic pilot each year. This year, discretionary spending will equal $1,050 billion. The debt ceiling agreement cut an underwhelming $7 billion from that amount. This represents a cut of less than .7% in discretionary spending, and less than .2% of the entire budget.

“I voted against the debt ceiling agreement – and I will be voting against a number of appropriations bills – because this meager level of spending restraint is simply not adequately addressing our very serious fiscal problems.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four appropriations bills yesterday afternoon – the three bills listed above, and the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2012.

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