Obey Unveils $410 Billion Omnibus

Posted February 23, 2009 at 2:26pm

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) on Monday unveiled a $410 billion omnibus spending package that would, once and for all, wrap up work on fiscal 2009 appropriations bills.

House and Senate Democratic leaders are racing to pass the package of leftover spending bills before March 6, when temporary funding runs out for nine government agencies: Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services; Interior and the Environment; Labor, Health and Education; the Legislative Branch; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Obey said the package represents a 5 percent reduction in earmarks below last year’s levels. He blasted former President George W. Bush for refusing to compromise on levels of spending in the nine outstanding bills that should have been passed into law in 2008.

Instead of working with Congress, Bush insisted on “unacceptable cuts to energy research, health care, education, law enforcement and biomedical research,” Obey argued. “Congress rejected these devastating cuts, and today presents a bill that will keep the government running and finish last year’s business.”

House Republican leaders continue to complain about the levels of discretionary spending in the package.

In a letter sent Monday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders call for a federal spending freeze in place of passing the omnibus legislation.

Boehner railed against Democrats for withholding the bill from public view until the last minute and for trying to pass a package that “contains the largest discretionary spending increase since the Carter administration, at a time when the federal budget deficit is already ballooning to dangerous levels.”