But Republicans said it is increasingly difficult to envision what that middle ground may look like and warned that it is likely someone will come away angry from this fight. “Sometimes there is no middle ground and you have to do the right thing,” a Senate GOP aide said, adding that “the question they have to ask is whether or not people are clamoring for more ‘Bridges to Nowhere.’”
Meanwhile, it appears that House and Senate negotiators cut a number of expensive or controversial earmarks out of the 2008 appropriations as part of their effort to winnow down the omnibus bill to avoid a presidential veto.
Although watchdog groups are continuing the slow process of combing through the bill’s thousands of pages, researchers at Taxpayers for Common Sense already have identified a handful of building projects that appropriators cut to pass the bill.
According to a preliminary review, in addition to cutting the $2 million archives project in Alaska, appropriators also eliminated a $21 million federal building construction project proposed by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.); a $2.6 million federal courthouse construction project included in the Senate spending bill by Shelby; and an $18 million courthouse project backed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas). Conferees also cut hundreds of millions in proposed funding for the St. Elizabeths mental institution in Washington, D.C.