Reid Fingers GOP for Funding Jump

Posted February 25, 2009 at 4:36pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) created a minor partisan scuffle Wednesday when he laid the blame for an increase in legislative branch funding on Senate Republicans. Asked why Congress was giving itself a 10 percent increase over last year, Reid said reporters should direct their questions to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who insisted that Republicans keep their large committee staffs despite losing seven seats in the 2008 election. Reid said McConnell would have refused to allow Senate Democrats to adopt an organizing resolution that set generous committee funding ratios for Republicans, as well as increased membership for Democrats on all panels. “We had trouble organizing this year,” Reid said. “They wanted to maintain a lot of their staffing even though they had lost huge numbers. And the only way we could get that done is to do what we did. So you direct that question to Sen. McConnell.” The organizing resolution was agreed to in early January. Senate Republican sources said Reid’s suggestion is preposterous, and that they are receiving no more money than they did last year, when they had 49 Members. There are now 41 GOP Senators. “Republicans aren’t getting a dime more than we did last year,” one senior Senate Republican aide said. Historically, reduced numbers in the minority has resulted in reduced committee staff funding, Democrats pointed out. And one Senate Democratic aide said an extra $8 million of the $4.4 billion measure can be attributed to the effort to keep GOP staff in place. Republicans said that was a pittance compared with the entire bill’s price tag. Only $137 billion of the entire bill is for committee “inquiries and investigations,” an increase of less than 1 percent, they argued. Senate operational costs as a whole are set to increase by 7 percent, with House funding rising 7.5 percent. The Architect of the Capitol stands to receive a 28 percent increase, Republicans said.