Democrats Huddle to Clear Path for Appropriations Bills

Posted June 17, 2009 at 1:03pm

Updated: 2:30 p.m.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) met Wednesday to map out a way forward with appropriations bills.

Democratic leaders hit a snag Tuesday night when, during debate on the $64.3 billion Commerce-Justice-science appropriations bill, Republicans refused to agree to a time limit and began to filibuster by amendment. After a dragged out debate on the first few amendments, Democrats pulled down the bill and began work on a new rule.

Republicans have since been accusing Democrats of abandoning the open process and imposing unfair restrictions on amendments.

“This has been a memorable appropriations process for both sides. We are only getting started, and this is already a bumpy ride,— Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday as she introduced the new rule on the floor.

A senior Democratic aide said the House will take up the new, more restrictive rule Wednesday afternoon. The rule will be specific to Wednesday’s appropriations bill, said the aide, but it “could be a template for others.—

Both the bill and the rule are plump with amendments, most of which are by Republicans. The bill has 127 amendments, 103 of which are by GOP Members. The rule has 33 amendments, 24 of which are GOP offerings.

Emerging from Wednesday’s meeting, Obey declined to give details on how Democrats will move forward with the 12 annual spending bills.

Obey said Democrats have been working with Republicans since December to come up with a process for moving appropriations bills. Up until Tuesday night’s debate began, Obey said he was told by his GOP counterparts that “things would go smoothly.—

Obey would not comment on whether he is angry with Republicans for filibustering on the CJS bill after months of working together to come up with a process for appropriations bills.

“There’s no point in answering that question. I don’t want to make the situation worse,— Obey said.