He took a principled stand.
The $522 Billion omnibus spending bill that had been scheduled for a House Vote today was held up when Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Obey announced last night that he would not file it, and recommended the bill be scrutinized and revised before it goes to a floor vote. Obey, clearly disgusted, said he is prepared to cut billions from domestic programs and eliminate all earmarks for home-state spending projects, which congresspersons of both parties are addicted to.
“I’m not in the business of trying to pave the way for $70 billion or $90 billion for Iraq for $10 billion in table scraps,” Obey said. “We asked Bush to compromise. He has chosen to go the confrontation route.”In October, you may recall, Obey put a hold on the $190 Billion war supplemental spending bill lusted after by Chimpy McWarPorn, announcing that until there is a definitive change of course where the unholy clusterfuck of Iraq is concerned, there would be no supplemental spending legislation coming out of committee, Nancy and Steny (especially Steny) be damned.
“I want no linkage what-so-ever between domestic [spending] and the war. I want the war to be dealt with totally on its own. We shouldn’t be trading off domestic priorities for the war.”
The omnibus bill was the product of weeks of wrangling and back-room wheeling and deakling, and had been an attempt to find some middle ground with the administration, which upon losing the majority in that thumpin' last November got the fiscal responsibility religion and joined a cult with some weird ideas. Bush wanted $10.6 Billion cut from the spending bills passed by the House last summer, while simultaneously addign emergency funds for the State Department and for border security, a pet issue of the Republican party.
Obey is not just directing his anger at the Bush administration, but at his congressional colleagues as well, especially Steny Hoyer, whose comments last week suggested a trade-off was in the works - war funds for domestic spending.
Liberal blogs - this one included - went nuts.
In order for the bill to ratchet down to the spending levels Resident Evil™ would sign would have required cuts that would have effectively frozen many agencies spending levels at 2007 levels. Obey said, in effect, "fuck that notion." Okay - what he really said was “If we’re going to lose we might as well lose with clarity so that people understand who is responsible for those inadequate investments,” the combative Obey said. “And if you take those bills down to the president’s level, it is very hard for me to understand how earmarks can survive. It’s not a threat. It’s a reality. Win or lose, we have to move on,” Obey said. “I don’t want to chew last year’s cud 15 more times. I’m willing to win. I’m willing to lose fair and square. I just want to cut the bull gravy and get to the bottom line.”
Democrats caution that Obey's strident stand is not mere posturing. There is a growing impatience both among the anti-war Democrats in Congress and among constituents in everyones district.