Obey blasts GOP for slowing spending bills

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) is blasting Republicans for slowing down his efforts to move appropriations bills through Congress by the August recess.

Obey criticized the House GOP for offering more than 100 amendments to a $64.4 billion spending bill funding the Commerce and Justice Departments and federal science. He’s also won a House rule to limit debate to 33 amendments, down from a total of 127.

“If this continues, we will not finish appropriations bills before August, we will have continuing resolutions and omnibus appropriations bills, which neither side wants, and there will be no room left in the schedule for other crucial priorities like healthcare, energy reform and the military authorization bill," Obey said.

He charged Republicans with delaying the bill by proceeding “like a million mosquitoes,” a reference to a description of Republican tactics once made by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

Obey's schedule calls for a vote on the first spending bill Wednesday, but House Democratic aides said it was unclear when the vote would take place.

Republicans fired back at Obey, charging him with walking away from bipartisanship.

“It appears that their intent is to change the rules of the game in the middle of the first inning and shut the minority out of the legislative process altogether,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

Lewis added that the Democrats' decision to restrict debate and cut down on amendments on the first spending bill "does not bode well for the success of bills to follow.”

Obey is pressing lawmakers to follow his detailed schedule for passing all 12 spending bills in the House before the August recess. Obey and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) want to pass each appropriations bill separately before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Lawmakers haven't been able to do that since 1994, resorting instead to omnibus packages criticized as vehicles for pork and to continuing resolutions that delay spending decisions well into the start of the fiscal year.