Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Appropriations, 2007

I should have mentioned this sooner, as it certainly counts as a significant vote by the House. On January 31, the House voted on HJ Resolution 20, with the creative title, "Revised Continuing Appropriations for FY 2007". Sounds exciting, doesn't it? The bill passed 286-140.

Tim Walberg voted No. This time, 57 Republicans joined the Democrats in voting yes (including Michigan Republicans Fred Upton (MI-06), Mike Rogers (MI-08), Candice Miller (MI-10), and Thad McCotter (MI-11)), while just 2 Democrats voted against it.

So what was this bill? I'll tell you now, I'm probably going to do an awful job explaining it, because my understanding of the complicated budget process is limited. Feel free to tell me if I'm wrong on any of this.

See, when Democrats campaigned during 2006 calling the GOP-led 109th Congress a "do-nothing Congress," they weren't joking. There are 11 appropriations bills Congress passes during a normal year to fund the federal government. Last year, the 109th passed just two of those nine for fiscal year 2007.

Taking control, the Democratic leadership had a choice: either they could spend their time fighting over what to spend and cut in a fiscal year we had already started, derailing all of the new ideas they wished to propose, or they could pass the bill Congressman Dave Obey (D-WI) authored with Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). They chose the latter.

This bill essentially continues all the spending from FY 2006 into 2007, staying within the same budget limits. In addition, it eliminates all earmarks for this year.

Is it the ideal budget bill? Of course not. But, here's what Congressman Obey says:
“The most fundamental obligation of the Congress is to decide what activities the government needs to engage in and to provide the financing for those activities. When last year’s Congress walked away leaving the budget process uncompleted they ducked that obligation and left their mess for us to clean up,” said Obey. “I don’t expect people to love this proposal, I don’t love this proposal, but at least we’ve made the hard choices necessary to bring last year’s issues to a conclusion so we can turn the page and deal with next year’s priorities.”
(Emphasis added).

By leaving those nine bills unfinished, the 109th Congress and its Republican leadership were guilty of dangerous, negligent behaviour.

Congressman Walberg, by voting no, voted to support such behavior. Strangely, by voting no, he also voted against eliminating earmarks. Wasn't that a big deal back in the primary?

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So, using the Walberg campaign's logic (or Wally's Rules of Rhetoric and Subterfuge), his no vote on this bill to eliminate all the earmarks means he voted against a bill which removed funding for the Bridge to Nowhere.

The problem here is Walberg offers no explanation of why he votes as he does. I know these are complicated and full of partisan gamesmanship, but he could at least try to explain it to us. Unless the Club for Growth has not released his talking points to him yet.
That's his MO. He justs votes no on issues he doesn't understand or comprehend, which are most of the issues in Congress.
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