Pelosi Refusing Second Look at Omnibus

Posted March 5, 2009 at 11:18am

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is drawing a hard line against further consideration of the omnibus spending package if the Senate fails to approve the House-passed version of the bill.

Pelosi signaled that if Senators insist on changes to the package, she would support a continuing resolution to continue funding government operations through the year.

“That is the plan,— Pelosi told reporters Thursday.

She argued the package up for consideration as soon as Thursday in the Senate was “agreed to in a bipartisan way.—

“If we started to open that package, it would be endless,— she said.

Senators on Wednesday rejected proposals to scrub the package of controversial earmarks. The inclusion of thousands of those targeted spending provisions, and the package’s $410 billion total price tag, have clouded its prospects, as Republican support is thin and a handful of Democrats remain on the fence.

Senior White House officials have indicated President Barack Obama plans to sign the bill, earmarks and all, though he is unhappy with the level of pet projects. Obama campaigned on reducing earmarks, and despite uneasiness among some Democrats with those spending provisions in the omnibus, most Congressional Democrats are reluctant to cede their power to insert their favored items into bills. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) articulated those feelings on Tuesday when he said, “I don’t think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do.—

Pelosi on Thursday moved to sew up any intraparty rift on the issue, defending earmarks as “appropriate,— while also saying she agrees with Obama “that we need to have fewer earmarks.—

She pointed to efforts Congressional Democrats have already made to scale back on earmarks and impose new disclosure requirements on their authors. “I still think we should cut them back some more,— Pelosi said, adding her standard is: “Lower number, more transparency, total accountability.—