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House Leadership Uses Obscure Procedural Move to Cap Spending Levels
By Greg Brozeit
05.16.06
After failing to secure a majority to pass the fiscal year 2007 Budget Resolution, the House leadership is now moving toward invoking a little used provision to set lower domestic spending levels consistent with the President's budget. House moderates opposing the current bill as drafted have promised to keep working toward a budget that increases medical and education spending by $7.2 billion.

The House leadership withdrew the fiscal year 2007 Budget Resolution from consideration by the full House on Thursday, May 11, 2006 because they did not have the votes to pass the bill. Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE), leader a group of 15 House Republican moderates, has repeatedly stated that the House bill should mirror the bill passed by the Senate which provides $7.2 billion more for the Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations bill than the amount passed by the House Budget Committee.

Castle stated that "members are very concerned about medical research" and would stand firm on their demands. House Majority Leader John Boeher (R-OH), acknowledging the difficult political position his party faced said "When we think we have the votes to pass the budget, we'll bring it up."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), noting that this may be the first time in 30 years that the House failed to pass a budget resolution, said a statement, "House Republicans are deeply divided, in disarray, and failing to get the job done for the American people...[and are] on the cusp of failing to meet the most basic responsibility of governing— enacting a budget."

It is unlikely that the House leadership will secure passage of the Budget Resolution before the Appropriations Committee begins to put together the spending bills.

Therefore, the House leadership is strongly considering a little used House rule called "deeming." Under this procedure, in lieu of a passed Budget Resolution, the House leadership will "deem" the overall spending cap for all the appropriations bills at $873 billion, the amount recommended in the President's budget proposal and $7 billion less than last year.

In essence, the amounts each appropriations subcommittee receives will be determined by the House leadership, not by a vote of the full House on the bill. Should this occur, it will likely set up a contentious conference process with the Senate when they reconcile these bills in the fall.

To avert this situation, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) has moved $4.1 billion from other appropriations bills to Labor, HHS and Education. Rep. Boehner has stated that he considers the $4.1 billion "a floor" for spending for the bill. However, Rep. Castle emphasized that his group of moderates would continue to seek the additional $3.1 billion to achieve their $7.2 billion goal.


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