via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
But oil drilling language bringing opposition,
and likely White House veto threat
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congressional leadership is pushing a five-month stopgap spending measure
that would keep the government funded through March 6, including $25 billion
in government-backed loans for the auto industry ($7.5 billion for the
credit subsidy of up to $25 billion), new offshore-drilling rules, $5.1
billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP; $2.5
billion designated as emergency funds), the 2010 Census, veterans' medical
programs, and possibly more add ons.
The CR would fund most federal government programs at Fiscal
Year 2008 levels through March 6, unless Congress acts before
that. None of the Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations bills have been enacted.
Appropriators are still working to complete three of 12 appropriations
bills — Defense, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and Homeland
Security — and package them together.
There would be some exceptions where the FY 2008 spending
baseline would not apply and the CR specifies the new fiscal 2009 spending
total. Spending for these accounts generally would be higher
than under the baseline. For example, the Women Infants and Children
(WIC) program would be funded at $6.658 billion.
Importantly, the draft would extend the Trade Adjustment Assistance
If the White House objects to the add
ons and other language in the CR, its expiration could
be shortened to soon after the Nov. 4 elections.
Democratic leaders stressed that the current CR language is a
draft and subject to significant changes during the next day or so.
Some lawmakers want to have the CR serve
as a vehicle for infrastructure projects, Medicaid funding
for states, an extension of unemployment insurance, and disaster relief
funding, probably in the $20 billion range, to deal with recent hurricanes,
floods and wildfires.
The draft bill also includes $2.4 billion in “recurring
emergency funding” — emergency spending from the
previous year that Congress decides is necessary again. The White House
requested most of those provisions on Sept. 5. The biggest is $1.1 billion
for building a fence along the southern border as part of the Department
of Homeland Security’s Secure Border Initiative. Other funding
directed at immigration enforcement programs includes $516 million for
the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and $60 million for the
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ E-Verify program.
The draft bill includes controversial
language on offshore drilling. Instead of allowing a moratorium
on offshore oil and gas drilling to expire on Oct. 1, the draft proposal
would incorporate language from House legislation (HR 6899) that would
do away with the ban but substitute other restrictions. The bill would
allow drilling 100 miles offshore and give states the option of permitting
exploration as close as 50 miles from shore. It also would lift a federal
ban on developing oil shale in the Rocky Mountain region if states sign
off. But the language does not provide for revenue sharing with states.
The draft is drawing opposition from Republicans and possibly
in the Senate, where pro-drilling Democrats such as Sen. Mary
Landrieu of Louisiana and Jim Webb of Virginia have pushed for language
that would let states share any revenue from offshore drilling. That
language is missing from the House bill, and opponents say no state
will opt in to drilling without the financial incentive. Including the
drilling language would likely draw a White House veto threat.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) accused the House
Democratic plan of trying to “permanently lock up almost 90 percent
of the best energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf,
while blocking exploration of a trillion barrels of oil in the Inter-Mountain
Comments: Look for several
important changes in the CR before final passage is assured.
Both political parties and the White House are seeking leverage
on a host of issues. White House officials are hoping for a
lame-duck session during which they can accomplish unfinished goals
such as passage of a free-trade deal with Colombia.
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retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.