Obey tells White House to stick its spending bill

Wisconsin’s Dave Obey, the House Appropriations chair, is never one to mince words.  

He’s famous for his explosive language and telling it like it is, even on the House floor.  

He’s got a temper (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  And he hates to be pushed around.

So it should be no surprise that Obey has pulled the plug on the deal the Democrats were working on with the White House, to pour billions more into Iraq in return for some domestic pork.

The Washington Post reports:  

A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse last night after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith.

Instead, Obey said he will push a huge spending bill that would hew to the president’s spending limit by stripping it of all lawmakers’ pet projects, as well as most of the Bush administration’s top priorities. It would also contain no money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“When the White House continues to stick it in our eye, I say to hell with it,” House Appropriations Chairman David Obey. He said he will push a stripped-down spending bill.

He’s just as hot in his Wall Street Journal quotes:

“I’m not in the business of trying to pave the way for $70 billion or $90 billion for Iraq for $10 billion in table scraps,” Obey said. “We asked Bush to compromise. He has chosen to go the confrontation route.”

“I want no linkage what-so-ever between domestic [spending] and the war. I want the war to be dealt with totally on its own. We shouldn’t be trading off domestic priorities for the war.”

Whether he can make it stick is another question.  As chairman, he has a lot of clout.  But too many Democrats seem far to ready to wheel and deal and sell us out on the war, as noted here on Saturday.

But Obey, at least, has had enough.  He sounds ready to dig in for the long haul — unless his caucus undermines him, which would not be a shock.  Back to the Post:

House Democratic leaders were scheduled to complete work last night on a $520 billion spending bill that included $11 billion in funding for domestic programs above the president’s request, half of what Democrats had initially approved. The bill would have also contained $30 billion for the war in Afghanistan, upon which the Senate would have added billions more for Iraq before final congressional approval.

But a stern veto threat this weekend from White House budget director Jim Nussle put the deal in jeopardy, and Obey said he is prepared for a long standoff with the White House.

“If anybody thinks we can get out of here this week, they’re smoking something illegal,” he said.

A timely call to your representative in the House would be in order, asking him/her to do the right thing and refuse to support any Iraq appropriations that are not tied to troop withdrawals.

Call the House Switchboard 202-224-3121

Or go here to find email and phone for your representative.

UPDATE: Another Wisconsin blogger notes that Obey has been less than consistent on war funding and wonders whether he has seen the light.  


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  1. If he holds firm I will even forgive him for calling us idiots…now that he has come around to defunding, finally….which is why he called us idiots, lol.

  2. A congressman who wants to finally do the right thing!  We

    need to make sure to give Chairman Obey some love.

    On Wisconsin….

  3. The last Iraq supplemental bundled a similar amount of Occupation funding with $45 billion in Domestic spending. Is Obey’s problem the bundling per se, or the amounts?

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