OMB Hammers Appropriators

July 31, 1996

OMB Hammers Appropriators

If Clinton Administration statements on House appropriations bills are any indication, House Members and Senators had better disregard large parts of the House work if they expect to reach amicable deals with the Clinton administration on fiscal 1997 funding measures. In their recent "statements of administration policy," Office of Management and Budget officials have expressed varying degrees of dismay with the House-passed bills.

The administration has threatened outright vetoes of the House Commerce-Justice-State, Defense, Energy and Water, Interior and Labor-HHS bills. It has said it "strongly opposes" the House VA- HUD and Foreign Operations bills. From there, the administration language becomes a mishmash of disapproval: It "does not support" the level of funding in the Military Construction bill, finds the Treasury-Postal bill as reported out of House committee "unacceptable," and has "serious concerns" about the committee's work on the Agriculture bill. The administration does support the District of Columbia bill, and administration officials said they are "pleased with many aspects" of the Transportation bill, while some provisions are "troubling."

Nonetheless, House GOP appropriators have been trumpeting how they have improved over the troubled fiscal 1996 appropriations cycle, on which they did not actually complete their work until this past spring. "We've taken out most of the heater issues," House Appropriations Chairman Livingston said this week. "We learned how to deal with the administration, how to deal with the Senate, and how to deal with some of our own Republicans." But Appropriations ranking member David Obey, D-Wis., said the priorities reflected in the House bills are "not sustainable. It's still a very unrealistic agenda." And House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., gibed, "If they're saying this is progress, we're in real trouble."

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