Lampson Wants More Spending in Supplemental

Posted May 13, 2008 at 4:17pm

As House Democratic leaders continue trying to placate fiscally conservative Members over domestic spending in the war supplemental package, some Blue Dogs are quietly calling for additional domestic projects.

Blue Dog Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) said Tuesday afternoon that some fiscally conservative Democrats are “right now trying to add” more resources for NASA into the war spending bill, which remains tied up behind closed doors over Blue Dog objections.

The Johnson Space Center is in Lampson’s Houston-based 22nd district, and Democratic leaders may be somewhat sympathetic to the Democrat’s quest in order to shore up his support in a seat once held by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R).

Democrats are meeting Tuesday evening to try to hammer out a compromise on the emergency spending measure that would allay Blue Dog concerns over the 10-year, $52 billion cost of a GI entitlement program that is currently part of the supplemental. Blue Dogs say the provision is a violation of pay-as-you-go budget rules because it is not offset, and they have withdrawn their support until a compromise can be reached.

But Lampson’s NASA initiative could provide another mini-hurdle for the Democratic leadership and blunt the Blue Dog offensive.

Increased NASA funding is “one area I have a particular interest in,” Lampson said Tuesday. The agency has “lost a lot of funding” in recent years due to shuttle accidents and storm damage.

Lampson conceded that the image of fiscal conservatives pushing for more domestic spending items in the supplemental “would probably cause the Blue Dogs a little trouble.”

Still, there is “some support” among Blue Dogs for tacking on the NASA funding, he said. Doing so would lead to “significant returns” and “would grow the economy,” which is how it could be justified as as add-on to the bill without being paid for.

One proposal being discussed by House Democratic leaders and Blue Dogs as a way to raise billions to pay for enhanced GI benefits in the bill would involve raising “carried interest” taxes on private equity fund managers.

When asked about whether he would support that approach, Lampson said he did “not want to answer that at this point.”