Sen. Byrd: 'It's time to govern, Mr. President.'

The White House should start working with Congress to pass a budget, a top Democratic senator said Dec. 10, after the Bush administration threatened last week to veto an omnibus spending bill that may come before Congress this week.

“The White House should cease its political posturing and work with the Congress to complete the appropriations process,” said Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a statement.

“It's time to govern, Mr. President,” he said.

A consolidated spending bill under the Fiscal 2008 Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act is on the House’s schedule for today, according to Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Byrd was responding to a veto threat last week from Jim Nussle, director of the Office of Management and Budget. Nussle issued the threat after press reports about discussions over a spending bill with $18 billion in additional domestic and emergency spending above the president’s budget.

“This is not fiscally responsible,” Nussle said Dec. 8. “Our economic growth and job creation cannot be taken for granted, and Congress should not burden taxpayers with billions of dollars in additional wasteful spending.”

Byrd disagreed with Nussle.

“It is extraordinary that the president would request an 11 percent increase for the Department of Defense, a 12 percent increase for foreign aid and $195 billion of emergency funding for the war, while asserting that a 4.7 percent increase for domestic programs is fiscally irresponsible,” Byrd said.

Nussle said Congress should pass a continuing resolution that keeps the government running and supports the troops, “if Congress insists on sending the president a budget-busting bill they know he will veto.”

Congress has already passed two continuing resolutions. The second resolution expires Dec. 14.

Throughout the budget process, President Bush threatened to veto spending bills that exceeded his budget proposals. In November, he vetoed the Fiscal 2008 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act because it was on track to be $22 billion more than he proposed and included another bill for veterans spending. He signed the Fiscal 2008 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which was $22.4 billion less than his original funding request.

While conference committees of House and Senate members have been discussing several separate spending bills, five appropriations bills have yet to come to the full Senate for a vote.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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