GOP looks to box in Obama on $1.1 trillion government spending bill

Republicans are trying to box President Obama in on congressional Democrats’ $1.1 trillion spending bill by dredging up the president’s past statements.

The GOP is pointing to the president’s previous remarks about big spending bills like the trillion-dollar 2011 omnibus in order to set up a difficult political situation for the White House.

Republicans pointed to Obama’s past statements that were critical of bills similar to the one Democrats in the Senate have proposed to keep the government funded through 2011.

“I expect future spending bills to be debated and voted on in an orderly way, and sent to my desk without delay or obstruction, so that we don’t face another massive, last-minute omnibus bill like this again,” Obama said as early as 2009, upon signing one such bill into law.

Congress needs to authorize new funding by Saturday, or run the risk of a government shutdown. Lawmakers can authorize the massive spending bill, or would otherwise have to pass a “continuing resolution” that would punt on government spending until next year, when Republicans control the House. 

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was initially a Republican appointee, lent his support to passing the omnibus in a statement. He said that lawmakers should, despite their concerns, “enact a full defense appropriations bill as part of an omnibus appropriations bill.”

The GOP has ramped up its attacks on the spending bill and has enjoyed support from some Democrats in hopes that recess-minded congressional leaders will relent and pursue a continuing resolution instead.

If not, Republicans have looked to force Obama to veto the bill, drawing on his support for a ban on the practice of earmarking. The omnibus package is full of requests for the special projects from both Democrats and Republicans.

“If President Obama is truly serious about ending earmarks, he should oppose Senate Democrats’ pork-laden omnibus spending bill and announce he will veto it if necessary,” incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday in a statement.

The administration hasn’t yet stated its position on the package. The White House hasn’t released an official Statement of Administration Policy, but it’s entirely possible it might not release one at all.

“I’ve heard back-and-forth on a bunch of different things,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said about the package earlier this week. “But, obviously, one of the things that has to be done before Congress leaves is how we’re going to pay for the operation of government going forward.”

Republicans have sought to build their case by pointing to other Senate Democrats who’ve opposed earmarks in the past, as well.

Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Russ Feingold (Wis.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Mark Warner (Va.), Evan Bayh (Ind.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) had voted for an earmark moratorium in late November. Of the last two, Bayh has previously written in opposition to omnibus bills, and McCaskill said Wednesday she’d oppose the deal.

Tags Bill Nelson Boehner Claire McCaskill John Boehner Mark Udall Mark Warner Michael Bennet
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