While Barack Obama talks about trying to build bipartisan support for the Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending package, he and his fellow Democrats are simultaneously trying to hide the other elements of his spending agenda until this one passes. That's why there's no detail currently available on the next bank bailout, the Big 3 bailout, the president's health care reform plan, or the 5-year transportation reauthorization that Congress will pass this year.
And now it's clear that the Democrats in Congress will not pass the bills that fund the federal government for 2009 until after the 'stimulus' is done:
House Democratic leaders are punting on the omnibus spending bill until after the Presidents Day recess, a shift that increases the possibility that Congress will have to consider another continuing resolution to keep the government operating.
The House will likely finish its work on the bill sometime before March 6, “in the two weeks after we come back” from the mid-February recess that kicks off on Feb. 13, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.
The delay in moving the package of leftover fiscal 2009 spending bills puts Democratic leaders right up against the March 6 expiration of a continuing resolution that has kept much of the government funded at fiscal 2008 levels. Failure to send the omnibus to the White House before that date means Congress will have to pass another temporary spending measure to keep the government funded.
The bill was originally slated for House debate this week but slipped as House leaders await Senate action on their biggest legislative priority: the $819 billion economic stimulus package.
Drafting of the 2009 omnibus spending bill was completed in December, according to reports. It was originally going to be considered before inauguration, but it has been constantly deferred. The total pricetag for the bill is in excess of $400 billion.
Why do Congressional leaders keep putting it off? Because they recognize the public will have a hard time swallowing a $1 trillion emergency 'stimulus' bill fresh on the heels of a $400 billion spending bill. Further, leaders want to make sure that all their priorities are addressed in the emergency spending bill. But if they're not, they're holding another spending bill in reserve, and any items that were dropped will get put in there.
Congressional Republicans must insist that Obama and the Democrats come clean about all the spending coming down the road. Congress will ultimately be asked to approve $2-$3 trillion of new spending this year -- outside the regular federal budget. Congress must insist they have the whole tab before they start deciding on pieces of it.