A huge chunk of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been done outside of the regular congressional appropriations process through "supplemental" spending bills, which don't count on the budget and mask the actual impact the wars are having on the deficit.
This is something Obama vowed to change on the campaign trail. "As President, Obama will […] end the abuse of the supplemental budgets, where much of the money has been lost, by creating system of oversight for war funds as stringent as in the regular budget," a campaign document (.pdf) on defense spending stated.
But, last Thursday, the Administration was back in front of Congress asking for another supplemental for the Afghanistan surge, his second since becoming President.Read Full Article
President Obama will kick off the 2011 budgeting process this week by submitting a $3.8 trillion budget plan, which is $250 billion more than last year's budget, but also represents an almost 50% decrease in last year's level of spending growth. Later in the week, the House will take up controversial cybersecurity legislation.Read Full Article
Once again, I was caught unawares by the House, as it approved a $636 billion Defense Spending Bill yesterday afternoon. The text of the legislation wasn't posted online until sometime after 10 p.m. last night, and while we've been expecting action on it for the past few weeks, it still came as a surprise.Read Full Article
A couple of weeks ago we wrote of the possibility of Congress rolling the remaining appropriations bills into one package so lawmakers could approve the legislation before the end-of-year recess. Aside from that deadline, a continuing resolution (the second one this year) is set to expire on Dec. 18, and that would leave major portions of the federal government without funding.Read Full Article
We've been (reasonably, I would argue) so engrossed in the debate over health care reform and unemployment benefits here at OpenCongress that we've done a poor job of keeping you up to date on the U.S. Federal budget.Read Full Article
Not surprisingly, the vote over Obama's $3.6 trillion budget (H. Con. Res. 85) tonight was a deeply partisan affair. Not a single Republican voted in favor. Republicans have been very good this session of Congress with holding their party together in opposition to the Presidents' most significant measures. The Democrats, on the other hand, always tend to lose some votes to the other side. On Obama's budget, a full 20 Democrats votes with the Republicans against Obama's budgetRead Full Article
If you're following the debate over health care reform or climate change, Ezra Klein's piece on the budget reconciliation process is a must read. I know, it sounds dull, but it is probably the Democrats' best chance of passing health care or climate change bills this session, so you ought to get to know it. The basic idea is that there exists a process for allowing an up-or-down vote - 51 votes, not the 60 we are used to - on legislative proposals by attaching them to the annual budget. Sen. ...Read Full Article
The GIVE Act, which Avelino wrote about here, is scheduled for an initial vote today in the Senate. Basically, the bill would expand funding for AmeriCorps and establish other volunteer corps to deal with specific areas, like clean energy, education and health. The bill has been getting a lot of attention on OpenCongress (almost all negative) and has been making the rounds in the blogs. It's currently the second most-viewed bill on OpenCongress and the most-blogged about bill on the web. A ...Read Full Article