Budget battle looms
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Kai Ryssdal: There's lots going on in Washington this week — immigration in the Senate, and we'll get to that in a bit.
The House is tackling spending bills for the 2008 fiscal year that starts October the first.
Today, the House Appropriations Committee approved two more of the total of 12 bills that make up the government's spending plan. Democrats are pressing ahead with some hefty spending increases, challenging President Bush to make good on his threat to veto the ones that bust his budget.
Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports now on the likelihood of an ugly confrontation over the budget come September.
John Dimsdale: The two spending bills approved today exceed the president's requests by more than $5 billion. The committee's largesse for veterans' health care even surpassed the wish list put out every year by veterans service organizations.
Last night, the committee OK'd $32 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. That overshot the White House proposal by more than $2 billion.
Harold Rogers: I think we're giving them too much money. They don't need it.
Kentucky representative Harold Rogers is the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee. He says this bill is a 16 percent increase — much of it for grants for state and local first-responder agencies, such as police and fire departments.
Rogers: That account already has some $5 billion laying, there waiting to be spent. And I just don't think its wise in fiscally prudent times to pour more money into a hopper when very little is coming out the other end.
Still, Representative Rogers voted for the Homeland Security bill, as well as for both of today's generous spending proposals.
Heritage Foundation budget scholar Brian Riedl says the Republican budget record so far this decade leaves them little standing to block the Democrats' spending plans.
Brian Riedl: The Republican Congress is responsible for the 40 percent increase in domestic discretionary spending since 2001, and many of them are not resisting the Democrats' spending way. Runaway spending is a bipartisan problem.
House Republicans are being asked to sign a pledge that they will sustain any presidential budget vetos. The leadership says they are close to having the 145 pledges they need to avoid any congressional overrides this fall.
In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.