Lewis Declares “Unequivocal Opposition” to Budget Busting Omnibus Spending Measure
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to Chairman David Obey today, House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis reaffirmed his strong opposition to a massive, twelve bill omnibus spending package that could be considered when the House returns this month for a lame-duck Congressional session.
The legislation is being crafted by Democrat leaders and staff behind closed doors, and is the result of the failure of the Democrat Congress to pass a single Appropriations bill this year. Lewis has advocated for spending cuts that would bring federal budgets back to pre-stimulus and pre-bailout Fiscal Year 2008 funding levels, which would save taxpayers over $100 billion in the first year alone. In contrast, the Democrats’ omnibus package will likely exceed a whopping $1.1 trillion in total spending.
Lewis stated in the letter to Chairman Obey that “any effort by you or the present Democrat leadership to move a budget-busting omnibus spending measure will be met with my unequivocal opposition,” and that he would “strongly encourage every Republican Member of the Committee, my leadership, and the entire Republican Conference to oppose such legislation.”
The full text of the letter follows:
November 4, 2010
Chairman David Obey
House Committee on Appropriations
Dear Chairman Obey:
As we approach the closing days of the 111th Congress, I want to make clear my strong, unequivocal opposition to any potential omnibus spending bill you and the present Democrat leadership may be planning to bring to the House floor before the end of the year. My understanding is that you and the Democrat leadership are now in the final phases of fashioning legislation comprised of all 12 of the unfinished FY11 appropriations bills with a price tag exceeding $1.1 trillion.
The unmistakable message sent by the American people on Tuesday is that they are justifiably angry at Washington. They want Congress to cut spending. They want less government intrusion in their daily lives. And they want leaders who will make common-sense decisions regarding issues that affect their daily lives. It’s no wonder that the American public has said—loudly and clearly—“Enough is enough.”
Appropriations Committee Republicans offered dozens of amendments this year to cut non-security spending by $100 billion to FY08 levels and offered austere subcommittee allocations for the FY11 funding bills. Committee Democrats opposed every single amendment to cut spending during this Congress. With the principled and vocal support of the public, House Republicans look forward to fulfilling our promise—demonstrated through dozens of Committee amendments and outlined in the Pledge to America—to adopt these and other historic spending reforms in the 112th Congress. We will proceed under an open, regular order process that respects the rights of all Members to participate in the legislative process.
For reasons that remain unclear to this day, ten of the 12 regular appropriations bills in the House were never considered by the full Appropriations Committee and were never considered on the House floor this year. As a result, an omnibus spending measure would reflect a package of spending bills that no one outside of the individual subcommittees of jurisdiction has ever seen. This is a classic illustration—which has become common-place in recent years—of unmanaged, reckless spending pushed through in a monumental collapse of regular order.
Democratic staff apparently began negotiations between the House and Senate on an omnibus spending bill after Members of Congress left Washington in October. Realizing that these negotiations excluded input from elected Members of Congress, and recognizing the likelihood that these negotiations would lead to yet another massive, trillion dollar government spending bill, I directed my staff not to engage in these negotiations. Committee Republicans are ready to begin cutting spending immediately. Congress should not wait to do next year what we can begin in earnest today. There is no justifiable reason to delay this process until the 112th Congress convenes in January.
The American people have chosen a new path forward reflecting a desire to cut spending, rein in government excess, and demonstrate common-sense fiscal discipline. This change will occur during the 112th Congress under new leadership. In the meantime, any effort by you or the present Democrat leadership to move a budget-busting omnibus spending measure will be met with my unequivocal opposition. Further, I will strongly encourage every Republican Member of the Committee, my leadership, and the entire Republican Conference to oppose such legislation.
I look forward to hearing from you on your roadmap for completing the Committee’s business in a timely fashion that honors the public’s strong desire to immediately cut spending.