Monday, October 29, 2007

Proof Democrats Haven't Changed Washington

Congress has sent President Bush a water projects bill which he's promised to veto because it's porked up. This is a little ironic; water projects bills are intended to be all porked up. Even though the veto seems likely to be overridden, this bill is worth noting because of the back-story:

The Water Resources Development Act would authorize $23.2 billion for flood control, navigation and environmental restoration projects by the Army Corps of Engineers. The administration has threatened a veto, saying the cost is excessive.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel confirmed that the president still intends to veto the bill. The final version is far more expensive than either the original Senate-passed bill, which authorized around $14 billion, or the House-passed version, which authorized about $15 billion.

That's a neat way to do business: the House votes $15 billion; the Senate votes $14 billion. In the normal world, the compromise would be $14.5; in Congress, it's $23.

When I worked on Capitol Hill, the general rule for handling earmarks in conference was that all earmarks in dispute were halved. That way conferees didn't have to fiddle around with changing overall spending levels.

In this case, it seems that the compromise was to fully fund everything on both House and Senate lists -- and apparently some other items as well.

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