President Bush Friday signed a new one-week continuing resolution, but called on Congress to approve a yearlong CR if it fails to finish the fiscal 2008 appropriations bills this year.
"It would be disappointing if members of Congress did not finish their work by the holidays," Bush told reporters. "But if they don't, they should not carry the unfinished business of 2007 into the new year," he said. "Instead they should pass a one-year continuing resolution that does not include wasteful spending or higher taxes." Bush said any spending package approved this year should be "clean" legislation "without gimmicks, without policy riders that could not be enacted in the ordinary legislative process." He acknowledged he will not get all the Iraq spending he has requested, saying, "I also understand that Congress may provide a down payment on the war funding I requested -- without artificial timelines for withdrawal."
With Republicans waiting to see what is in the emerging budget package, House Republican leaders have remained mum about what they will accept and have yet to decide exactly how they will proceed next week. But sources in the GOP leadership and Republican rank-and-file said a good portion of the Conference wants to fight any bill they believe steps over the line on "gimmickry" or spending.
"We've been clear all along that we have twin concerns of both the overall number and what's in the package," said a spokesman for Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo. "That seems to be exactly the message the president sent today."
GOP sources acknowledged that while many want to fight, some lawmakers just want to go home. In addition, Republican Conference sources noted voters are likely to only be tuning into the appropriations process at the end. As Democrats have agreed to come down most of the way from roughly $22 billion above Bush's budget, there is the chance any continued fight could make it look like Republicans are holding up the process over an extra $3.7 billion solely for veterans' programs, which enjoy support in both chambers, and $7.4 billion in energy spending for popular issues.
If this latest Democratic omnibus proposal does move forward with war funding intact, Democrats are also facing the potential of only getting it through the House with the help of Republicans, even without the backing of a good number of conservative Republicans who object to the idea of an omnibus.
"Conservatives and even a lot of moderates will not be voting for any omnibus, even one with adequate war funding and a top line of $933 billion (which most conservatives thought was too high to begin with)," said one GOP aide. Nevertheless, such a scenario would be a clear win in the minds of GOP leaders.
"Republicans would have enacted into law a lot more of our priorities than Democrats have accomplished their goals," said a spokesman for Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.