Today President Bush made the following remarks on the budget:
Congress needs to pass these annual spending bills. And if they need more time, I urge them to pass a clean continuing resolution. Under a clean continuing resolution, the government would continue to operate at current funding levels while the Congress works on the annual appropriations bills. The principle should be that there would be no new spending, no new policies, no new projects, unless the President and Congress agree in advance on a specific item.
The continuing resolution is not a new idea. This isn’t the first time it’s — would happen. The last Congress didn’t pass all its appropriations bills on time. And with the help of a continuing resolution, Congress kept the government running while finishing the work. An earlier Republican Congress did the same thing during President Clinton’s second term, after a disruptive government shutdown that no Congress has allowed since.
When the 110th Congress took office earlier this week [sic], the leaders promised to make the legislative process more transparent, and to prove they could be responsible with the people’s money. They said, give us a chance to be responsible. Well, now is the time to honor those pledges. By passing a clean continuing resolution, Congress would give itself extra time to complete the 12 annual spending bills, and do them one at a time, in a fiscally responsible way.
Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey responded:
“President Bush's statement a few minutes ago telling the Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution is the equivalent of the rooster claiming credit for the sunrise. The fact is that I met with the President's budget director last week and informed him at that time that we intended to pass a clean C.R. I asked him if he would let me know if the administration had any exceptions that they wanted included and they sent us over a dozen changes that they wanted.
“At a time when we should be looking for ways to resolve our differences it serves no one's interest, least of all the country's, for the President to try to manufacture a disagreement when there is none.
“This is the time when we ought to be sitting down to work out reasonable compromises with each other instead of issuing phony challenges or posing for political holy pictures.”
Indeed, nearly two weeks ago CongressDaily reported: “Aides said it would be a ‘clean’ CR without pet projects for lawmakers.”
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer responded as well:
“Given the record budget deficits and spiraling debt that were triggered by his policies over the last six and one-half years, President Bush simply has no credibility when it comes to the issue of fiscal responsibility.
“The fact is, the President and the then-Republican majorities in Congress increased federal spending at twice the rate of the Clinton Administration — leading former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to write in his new book that Washington Republicans had abandoned the principle of fiscal discipline. Thus, it's no wonder the President is rightly defensive about his fiscal record, and clearly he is itching to veto appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2008 in a vain attempt to re-establish his bonafides with conservative groups.
“Today, however, Democrats in Congress are restoring fiscal discipline to our budget process. The spending levels in our appropriations bills are reasonable and responsible, helping us restore a balanced budget by 2012. In fact, Democrats are not now seeking to increase spending by unreasonable amounts; we are fighting to restore irresponsible cuts to key domestic programs that have been proposed by the President.
“The President needs to stop his political posturing over FY08 appropriations. There is simply no reason that we cannot sit down and negotiate reasonable compromises on these bills.”