Friday, July 20, 2007

Health And Human Services Appropriations Bill Passes The House

While the Senate has been in the middle of the Iraq tempest, the House has been steadily doing the nation's business. Yesterday they passed the eighth of eleven 2008 Appropriations Bills. H.R.3043 appropriates money for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The bill is huge. This year's appropriation is $154 billion or as WashingtonWatch grinds the numbers $5,868.73 per household.

Donny Shaw at Congress Gossip Blog reports

the bill's discretionary spending is $10.6 above what President Bush had requested and he has threatened to veto it for containing "irresponsible and excessive level of spending."
The vote was
# Ayes: 276 (Democrat: 223; Republican: 53)
# Nays: 140 (Democrat: 1; Republican: 139)
# Abstained: 15 (Democrat: 6; Republican: 9)
You can follow the link to find out how your congress person voted. Sixty four percent voted in favor of the bill. That is very close to the 2/3 vote needed to override President Bush's threatened veto.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has analyzed the President's claims that the house bill's funding is irresponsible and excessive and has determined that after adjusting for inflation and population growth, the bill is actually a $4 billion dollar reduction from Republican bills passed in the years from 2002 through 2006. As you may recall, after losing in early November the Republicans stomped out of the 109th Congress unwilling to pass several routine 2007 appropriations. This year the Government has relied on continuing resolutions to pay its bills.

The CBPP has an interesting take on the President's veto threats.
The results show that after adjusting for inflation and population growth, the appropriations bills the President is likely to veto — including the Labor-HHS-Education bill — would cost less in 2008 than the corresponding bills cost, on average, during 2002-2006. . . .We also find that the appropriations bills that the President will likely sign will cost considerably more overall in 2008 than those bills averaged in 2002-2006.

In short, the President will likely sign those appropriations bills that are more costly than in the past (after adjusting for inflation and population growth). Yet he is likely to veto — purportedly on fiscal grounds — those appropriations bills, such as the Labor-HHS-Education bill, whose costs are lower than the corresponding bills he signed in the past.
I don't know how to reproduce the CBPP's table. It's worth a look. Any guesses as to which appropriations bills (which are much larger than comparable 2002-2006 bills) the President says he is likely to sign? Come on, you can guess.