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Dems seek to withhold Cheney funding

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Scott Jagow: In Washington tomorrow, the House takes up a $44 billion appropriations bill. It’ll provide money to various parts of the government — the Treasury, the Postal Service, the White House.

Tucked away in the White House section is almost $5 million in salaries and expenses for Vice President Cheney. A group of Democrats plans to fight this line item. Marketplace’s John Dimsdale gives us the story on it.

John Dimsdale: This budget spat is the result of Vice President Dick Cheney’s claim that his office is exempt from a requirement that executive branch agencies report to the National Archives what documents they’re classifying as secret. The vice president argues his office is not an executive branch agency.

Julian Zelizer: It’s a particularly hard argument for Vice President Cheney to make, given that he’s invested so much in claiming executive power for the vice presidency until now.

Julian Zelizer is a congressional historian at Princeton University:

Zelizer: One of the ways in which Congress reminds executive officials that they are powerful and that they do have influence is by reminding them of the power of the purse.

For its part, the White House agrees the vice president, like the president, is exempt from the National Archives document scrutiny.

But the president’s spokesman, Tony Snow, today dodged questions on Vice President Cheney’s claim that he’s not part of the executive branch.

Tony Snow: Well, I’ll refer that to the vice president’s office. What you’re really talking about is trying to parse constitutionally. If you go back and for instance look at Article Two, there are no specified executive activities for the vice president.

Democrats say they’ll try to withhold the vice president’s budget as long as he refuses to cooperate with the National Archives.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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