House passes $516B omnibus spending bill

The House passed a $516 billion omnibus spending bill Dec. 17, days before a continuing resolution expires, but the legislation’s future is uncertain.

The Senate is closely divided on the fiscal 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act and will need to resolve senators’ differences before the bill is sent to the White House.

The House passed the first part of the bill appropriating money for agencies by a vote of 253-154. A section providing supplemental funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan was more contentious and narrowly passed by a vote of 206-201.

Bush administration officials have said the legislation needs improvement, specifically with regard to funding for the troops in Iraq. Without certain changes, they said President Bush would veto the bill.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the latest bill is the best Congress can do.

“It is not what each and every one of us wanted…but it is, in the exercise of the democratic process, the possible,” he said during debate. “It funds our government. It moves us forward.”

The stalemate on spending continues because “the president refuses to compromise, and the Senate is unable to produce the 60 votes needed to move legislation forward,” Hoyer said in a statement Dec. 17.

In the bill’s current form, the E-Government Fund would receive $3 million. Also, the bill would require the General Services Administration to evaluate its prices to make sure it’s not overcharging clients.

A new provision would require the Homeland Security Department to link contract award fees to successful acquisition outcomes specified in terms of cost, schedule and performance.

The bill would provide $267 million for the Internal Revenue Service’s Business Systems Modernization effort and require the IRS to review all the information technology projects not related to that effort to ensure that they work efficiently.

The Agriculture Department’s Multi-Family Housing Preservation and Revitalization Restructuring Program would receive $28 million with which to create an IT development and spending plan for an automated system to manage housing vouchers.

The continuing resolution expires Dec. 21.

About the Author

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

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