Blue Dogs press House leaders to limit emergency spending

In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs said Congress “can’t put off addressing the nation’s fiscal crisis, which was created by years of mismanagement and exacerbated by the recent economic crisis.”

The 59 lawmakers who signed the letter, which included a dozen House Democrats who aren’t Blue Dogs, said it’s “critical” to offset the cost of new investments aimed at creating jobs.

A new pay-as-you-go law enacted this year and championed by Blue Dogs was aimed at getting Congress to pay for new spending. But more than $200 billion in new spending approved this year in the Senate has been exempted because Democrats have deemed it “emergency spending,” Republicans critical of the PAYGo law have noted.

Blue Dogs are now looking to limit that kind of spending.

“It is critical that we uphold our efforts to restore fiscal discipline to the federal government by not using this tool for anything other than it is intended — a true, unforeseen emergency,” the Blue Dogs wrote in their letter.

Blue Dogs had balked at an attempt by senior Democrats last month to pass a new $23 billion fund to save teacher jobs as emergency spending. The House eventually passed a stripped-down $10 billion version of the fund that was partly offset with money from the $862 billion stimulus.

Most Democrats, including many Blue Dogs, are still looking to extend unemployment benefits without paying for them, considering them to be a true “emergency” item.