Lew warns GOP on 2012 spending bills

White House budget director Jack Lew warned House Republicans on Wednesday to abandon any attempts to put riders in the 2012 appropriations bills or to rewrite the August debt-ceiling deal.

Lew issued the warning on his Office of Management and Budget blog just as the House and Senate are preparing for their first appropriations conference committee in two years.

The Senate on Tuesday passed a “minibus” spending bill containing money for Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Housing and Transportation — and that bill could come to conference as early as Thursday.

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In his message, the budget director recalled how riders and deep spending cuts included in a House-passed spending bill in February almost shut down the government in April.

He noted that President Obama was ready to veto legislation that contained ideological provisions such as those intended to kill healthcare reform and Wall Street reform.

“So far this year, the House unfortunately has passed bills with many of the same funding problems and extreme and ideological provisions as we saw in February,” Lew wrote. “The date may have changed, but the President’s priorities have not — nor has his commitment to stop these sorts of measures. Going down this extreme, ideological path will only lead to gridlock.”

He wrote that healthcare and financial reform should be not be addressed in the spending bill process.

“Ending health care and Wall Street reform are major policy choices that should be made in the bright light of day, and not attached to appropriations bills needed to keep the government operating,” Lew wrote.

The debt-ceiling deal set 2012 spending at $1.43 trillion, and so far House GOP leaders support sticking to that level of funding. Fifty-two members of the GOP caucus, however, are on record wanting deeper cuts this year, according to a September letter.