OMB chief warns Congress not to overload emergency spending bills

In a warning to congressional leaders and appropriators of both parties, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels said Wednesday that any new spending added to continuing resolutions to keep agencies funded until Congress passes fiscal 2003 appropriations bills would have to be paid for "dollar for dollar."

Daniels, speaking at a breakfast roundtable held by the Committee for a Responsible Budget, said Bush is prepared to sign a long-term CR-whether for a month to get past the November election or a longer one that would last until next year-provided that "nothing is smuggled in."

Daniels said there was a risk of an "early Halloween" and that there were "several monsters rumbling around town," such as drought aid or Medicare givebacks that would draw the ire of the administration if added to a CR and not offset.

"If a CR must be our situation for the next few weeks or months, [it should not] be a vehicle for spending eruptions," Daniels said.

Daniels also reiterated the administration's desire to make sure the fiscal 2003 Defense bill is passed before Congress leaves town.

As long as the Defense bill was locked in, Daniels said he could foresee living under a CR that carried over last year's funding levels minus some one-time spending for several months without any problems.

"We can live under a CR for quite some time," Daniels said. "I hope it doesn't come to that. It's not the hallmark of good government. But it's not doomsday if we don't."