Hoyer Says Another CR Possible

Posted March 3, 2009 at 12:13pm

He may not like it, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) signaled Tuesday that Congress may be moving another brief continuing resolution to allow time for the omnibus spending bill to be signed into law after passage.

The package of leftover 2008 appropriations bills, which is now being debated in the Senate, must be sent to the president by Friday, which is when the current CR expires. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is aiming to pass the omnibus Thursday night, but Hoyer said the House will come in Friday if necessary.

“There may need to be an enrolling CR,— which would keep the government funded and provide a small window of extra time to move the bill from Congress to President Barack Obama on Friday, Hoyer said. However, he added: “Neither the Speaker nor I nor [House Appropriations Chairman David Obey] want to see a CR.—

On earmarks, Hoyer dismissed the suggestion that the Obama administration can tell Congress how to handle them. Administration officials have signaled they will be proposing new guidelines for earmarks.

“I don’t think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do,— Hoyer said. “It is certainly appropriate for the White House to suggest ways of going forward so that we can have agreement.—

Despite the House losing a work day this week because of snowy weather, Hoyer said to expect housing legislation on the floor on Thursday. Democrats are still working out differences on the bill, but Hoyer said he is “hopeful that we will have final agreement— by the end of Tuesday.

Asked what changes Democrats were making, Hoyer said they want to ensure that homeowners who go before bankruptcy judges to modify their loans “have tried the other avenues— before doing so.

The other big-ticket item this week, the D.C. Voting Rights Act, is still on the agenda, although Hoyer couldn’t say which day it would come up. The bill hit a roadblock in the Senate, where Republicans added amendments affecting D.C gun laws—something House Democrats are wary to support.

“We’re talking about how to deal with that,— Hoyer said. “I can’t tell you exactly how that’s going to be done at this point.— He suggested that House leaders are open to some Senate amendments, such as a provision to make the bill take effect sooner.

In light of Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) filing legislation this week to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell— anti-gay military policy, Hoyer said he agrees it is “appropriate— to bring the issue up for review. Still, the idea that policymakers have moved beyond the controversy of the subject in recent years is “not [so] with everybody.—