Democrats Divvy Up Appropriations Pie

Posted June 4, 2007 at 6:35pm

House Democrats plan to trim President Bush’s requests for four of 12 appropriations bills — including the one funding Congress — according to allocations scheduled to be approved by the Appropriations Committee today.

The legislative branch bill received a $251 million hike over fiscal 2007 levels, bumping the measure to $4.02 billion for fiscal 2008, but that is $307 million shy of Bush’s budget request, according to committee documents.

Democrats also sliced $3.5 billion from Bush’s proposed Defense budget, $650 million from his request for financial services and general government and $700 million from State and foreign operations.

The trims will allow even greater spending increases on Democratic priorities, including veterans’ health care, homeland security, renewable energy, education, grants to local police, agriculture and housing.

The allocations total $953.1 billion, $20.2 billion more than Bush requested. About $2 billion in advanced appropriations are also planned.

The bill funding the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments will receive $10.2 billion more than Bush requested, for a total of $151.1 billion before advance appropriations are taken into account. Bush had sought a $3.6 billion cut in the bill’s programs before inflation.

The spending has come under fire from Republicans and sparked veto threats from Rob Portman, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

But Democrats backed by dozens of interest groups argue that their spending largely restores funding to programs such as medical research and education that have been squeezed in recent years and exceeds Bush’s overall request by slightly more than 2 percent.

Defense spending in particular has been a political football in recent years, as appropriators have routinely sliced the budget to make room for more domestic spending only to backfill the money by adding money to “emergency” supplemental spending bills that bypass overall budget caps. The administration has resisted those efforts but has typically accepted several billion dollars of such shifts each year, including $3 billion Democrats shifted from the fiscal 2007 bills to the fiscal 2007 war supplemental for base realignment spending.