Omnibus Moving Along Smoothly Through Dem-Controlled Congress
10:40 AM, Mar 9, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
Or, not. After failing to pass the long-overdue spending bills on Thursday because Sen. Harry Reid couldn't get 60 votes, the Congress was forced to pass another continuing resolution while the Senate tries again to get cloture on the bill Tuesday night. Reid hopes allowing Republicans a vote on 10-12 amendments will earn him the votes he needs. He'll be working to defeat all the amendments, so the bill won't have to be reconciled with the House version.
The delay has become an embarrassment to Democrats and Obama, who didn't think they'd see this much resistance from moderate Democrats and the Republican minority. It's been so embarrassing in fact, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is threatening to act in a fiscally responsible way to make Republicans pay for their obstructionism:
Senate Democrats had abruptly pulled back Thursday night after finding themselves one vote short of the 60 needed to cut off debate. The action infuriated Speaker Nancy Pelosi so much that the California Democrat wanted to abandon the $409.6 billion measure and instead push through a stripped-down continuing resolution to keep the government operating through Sept. 30.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) and his deputy, Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D.-Ill.) were called to Pelosi's office late Thursday night and ultimately prevailed in their argument that Democrats should try to salvage the bill, which includes critical spending increases for vital agencies. But the heated, sometimes profane, exchanges were described as "ugly" by Democrats on both sides of the Capitol. Staff, kicked out in the hall, could hear the yelling, and Pelosi herself seemed a little abashed the next day, joking that nothing her leadership could say to her now would match the night before.
Well, to be fair Nancy, nothing makes Democrats madder than the idea of actually making "tough choices" about a spending bill. She should have known better.
Pelosi's idea of a pared-down omnibus is much closer to the one proposed by Republicans, which Democrats defeated, 218-160, Friday. I look forward to David Brooks using his favorite new adjective- "insane"- to describe Pelosi's position, too.