House, Senate leaders seek to break logjam on war spending bill

With appropriators unable to resolve their differences over what the House charges are extraneous "pork barrel" provisions in the Senate version of the fiscal 2003 war supplemental appropriations bill, the issue appears to have been kicked up to the leadership level.

Following a meeting Thursday of Senate committee chairmen, Agriculture Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who also chairs the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., planned to sit down with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., to break the impasse.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said DeLay and Hastert met Thursday today and "determined they are not going to schedule a supplemental for the floor as long as it contains the Senate pork. We will stay this weekend if we have to. We're officially dug in ... You can't leave D.C. for two weeks without funding the war."

The House leadership position has the backing of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young, R-Fla., and the full Republican Conference. Pointing out that he made good on his pledge to send the president a clean supplemental, turning down numerous member requests for projects, Young said: "My bill is almost perfect. There is no conference report." Nor had a conference committee been scheduled as of Thursday afternoon.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., registered his frustration today too, telling reporters: "If it takes removing them [the extraneous provisions] to get this done, then remove them. We need to get this done."

A Frist spokesman said Frist is committed to passing the conference report before the spring recess begins at the end of the week. "The president asked us to get it done by the recess, and that's what we plan to do," the spokesman said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, acknowledged that Thursday was the deadline appropriators had to meet. After the chairmen's meeting, he told reporters, "I believe we'll work it out this afternoon. It has to come to a close this afternoon" so a conference committee can be convened and the House can file a conference report in time for a Friday vote.

But Stevens also said he told his colleagues he and Young "have no agreement to meet" to wrap up the supplemental. Stevens confirmed the extra Senate provisions remain in dispute, and they were the final obstacles to an agreement.

"The discussions went on all last night, and they may go on all night tonight as well," he said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.