John Feehery, a former high-level staffer to Speaker Hastert, offers his preview of what we will see in the House next month. He's probably quite right:
The omnibus appropriations legislation, which hasn’t taken shape yet, will be a cesspool of pork barrel projects, misguided policy and new language on the war. Because of positive reports from the field in Iraq, it is not clear how hard a stance the Democratic leaders can take on a pullout date. Sen. John Warner has given the Democrats some cover, but other Democrats have blown that cover by intimating that the surge has actually worked.
If the Democrats don’t offer a hard pullout date, their left wing will go crazy. But in order to get the votes to authorize such a pullout date, the Democratic leadership will have to do some horse-trading, which means even more pork.
Look for John Murtha to drive this train. He is a master at horse trading, and of course, he is exceptionally good at keeping some of the pork for himself.
We've seen Democrats use 'Member projects' to ensure loyalty on key votes earlier this year. There's no reason to expect that things will change now -- particularly since shrewd Democratic Members have every reason to expect that leadership is willing to pay. With the weak 'reforms' enacted this year, conservatives will need to be aggressive to identify pork in moving legislation.