By Molly K. Hooper and Walter Alarkon - 06/21/09 08:19 AM EDT
House Republican Deputy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that Republicans will “stand up and fight,” against Democratic rules controlling debate that restrict the number of amendments they are allowed to offer to appropriations bills.
The GOP protest was sparked on June 16 when the Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) stopped consideration of C-J-S bill because Republicans, who had offered 102 amendments, were dragging out the process, Democrats say.
Historically, all members are allowed to offer amendments to appropriations bills. This was the first year that members were required to have their amendments published ahead of the floor debate in the Congressional Record. The result was 127 amendments before consideration of the bill.
Since Republicans refused to agree to constraints, Obey said he had to stop debate on the bill and limit all but a dozen of the GOP amendments from consideration on the floor.
Democrats have no intention of allowing an unchecked number of floor amendments on the remaining appropriations bills, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Friday afternoon.
Hoyer explained that he had been trying for more than two months to get GOP members to agree on the number of amendments.
The House is set to consider the Homeland Security spending bill next week and it is going to have a structured rule to prevent Republicans from attempting that tactic again. The House has 10 more annual spending measures to consider, giving Republicans ample opportunities to throw sand in the Democrats' gears. The Senate has yet to pass any of the appropriations bills.
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said that the GOP delaying strategy was less about the amendment process but more about spending policy. Record deficits and projected debts projected under Democratic rule require his party “use every tool in our arsenal to slow the process," he said.
Pence wouldn't rule out a repeat of their attempts to draw out debate on other spending bills, saying that he's open to "everything we can do to slow down this freight train of runaway federal spending."
Democratic appropriators in both chambers have set a goal of getting all 12 spending bills to President Obama by the start of the fiscal year, Oct. 1. That hasn't happened since 1994.
“We’re going to do each and every bill, we’ll just have structured rules," said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a top lieutenant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "We’re not going to let obstructionist and obstructions of the House succeed.”