House Dems reopen stimulus to find offsets to more spending

House leaders will try this week to attach the measure as an amendment to a spending bill already passed by the Senate that provides $37 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has pressed lawmakers to approve the war funding before Congress's July 4 recess. The Senate war spending bill also includes $5.1 billion for domestic disaster relief, $2.9 billion for aid to Haiti and $162 million for operations trying to combat the Gulf oil spill. Most of the $52 billion Senate bill isn't paid for.

Obey's $11.7 billion domestic spending package wouldn't add to the $13 trillion debt. It would be offset by redirecting money in the stimulus and with other spending cuts.

About $1.6 billion in stimulus money that would have gone to the departments of State, Defense, Interior, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Commerce and for the "Cash for Clunkers" automobile trade-in program will be used as an offset in the supplemental bill.

Republicans have long argued that any new spending by Democrats should be offset with stimulus funds. Democrats had been reluctant to reopen the stimulus, the centerpiece of their efforts to spur an economic recovery.

Obey's decision to offset the spending with stimulus funds is aimed at shoring up support for the supplemental spending bill. Both Republicans and centrist Democrats have opposed more deficit spending to help boost the economy.