Pass omnibus or extend the CR?


The cat-and-mouse political games continue on the Hill Tuesday as Senate leaders debate whether to pass a fiscal year 2009 omnibus to fund the majority of federal agencies.

Democrats beefed up the bill almost 9 percent above former President George W. Bush’s recommendations, saying the money would benefit agencies who had been neglected and provide a boost to build on funding awarded about a month ago in the economic stimulus package. But Republicans have decried the omnibus and stimulus bills as wasteful spending, with some talking about passing a short-term continuing resolution to replace the one that expires Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that could hire dire consequences for agencies.

If the omnibus doesn’t pass, we’re going to face a situation that will cut essential programs dealing with education, law enforcement and basic government services by some $20 billion.”

At an afternoon press availability, Reid defended the bill, saying the funding levels are just Bush’s numbers adjusted for inflation.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said he plans to offer an amendment that freezes agency funding to fiscal year 2008 numbers, where all but three agencies — Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs — have been operating since Oct. 1.

We already had the stimulus bill. They want to increase federal spending? Fine. They did that in the spending bill. We don’t need to every single time bills come before the Senate to dramatically increase federal spending.”

An amendment offered by Sen. John McCain would have extended the existing CR through Sept. 30, thus keeping funding at the FY 2008 levels. That amendment, which would have eliminated $7.7 billion in earmarks, failed 32-63 Tuesday afternoon.


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