News

Senate debate today on the $152 billion FY08 Labor-HHS appropriations bill focused on earmarks, as leaders sought to churn through amendments with a goal of final passage as early as Friday. President Bush has threatened to veto the measure, which is $11 billion above his request. That makes up about half of the overall spending differences between Bush and the Democratic Congress, and the bill represents the bulk of the social programs Democrats say draw a clear distinction between their priorities and Bush's. Democrats plan to make the bill the first veto bait for Bush among the FY08 spending measures. "This would be a good one to send to him because half of what he's complaining about in actual dollars is in this bill,"Majority Leader Reid said on the floor. Republicans took aim at $1 million for an arts center in upstate New York to house an exhibit on the 1969 Woodstock music festival, as well as a project not even in the Senate bill -- $2 million requested by House Ways and Means Chairman Rangel in the House version for a building named after him at City College of New York.

An amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to prevent House-Senate negotiators from funding Rangel's earmark failed on a 61-34 vote. DeMint said it was earmarks like Rangel's that "have discredited this body with the American people." Democrats argued it was pointless for DeMint to try to block a project not even funded in the Senate version and conferees would work their will. DeMint replied that the Senate this year accepted a similar amendment blocking funds in the House's Iraq war supplemental to compensate spinach growers hurt by last year's recall; House lawmakers eventually agreed to drop the provision.

The other earmark Republicans sought to eliminate, headed for a vote later today, was the money for Bethel Performing Arts Center in Liberty, N.Y., requested by New York Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The project was in part targeted after published reports indicated that the funding, which would help establish a museum with a Woodstock-focused exhibit, was requested by a top contributor to both senators. But the amendment's sponsors, Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., were careful to steer clear of allegations of impropriety, instead suggesting the funds were an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars. Their amendment would divert the $1 million to the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program. "Should this be a priority for this body over the priority of women and children?" Coburn asked.

Schumer, who was on the floor to defend the earmark, said it was among the top priorities submitted by Sullivan County, N.Y., an economically distressed area that has seen a decline in the last half-century since its heyday as a vacation spot in the Catskill Mountains. "It's an area that needs help. When you ask the people what's the one thing they need, it's jobs. Town and local officials have a better idea what would create jobs in Sullivan County than the senator from Oklahoma and the senator from Arizona," Schumer said.


Date Title
10/31/07 Lawmakers debate ways to cure health-care system
10/31/07 Reagan21 Introduced Today
10/31/07 Senate Votes for Increase In Subsidy for Amtrak
10/31/07 Conservatives Launch Caucus
10/30/07 Senate Rejects Conservative and White House Efforts to Curb Amtrak
10/30/07 Senate approves long-term funding for money-losing Amtrak
10/30/07 Lawmakers debate ways to cure health-care system
10/30/07 Uptick in crime spurs push for more police
10/30/07 Bennett touts his health-care bill
10/29/07 Why FEMA sparks ire in state
10/29/07 Suicide Measure Clears Without ‘Tracking’ Section
10/27/07 A Museum On Woodstock, With a Haircut
10/26/07 Coburn objects to earmarks irrespective of partisanship
10/26/07 Biden proposes $11 billion bill to tackle rising crime; Plan builds on 1994 law to fund police
10/25/07 Editorial: Oinking senators
10/25/07 Editorial: Saving their bacon
10/25/07 Editorial: Earmarks in Senate deserve special scorn
10/25/07 Congress OKs suicide-prevention bill
10/24/07 Editorial: ‘Tom Quixote': Coburn finds his target this time
10/24/07 Senators reject Coburn's health amendment
10/24/07 Children's Health Yields to the Senators From Pork
10/22/07 Wars Budgetary and Military - A showdown between Bush and Congress
10/22/07 Keeping a Place at the Trough
10/19/07 Column: Hippie-critical
10/19/07 Coburn questions choosing museum over medical care
10/19/07 Clinton's taxpayer-funded 'Woodstock flashback?'
10/19/07 Senate Nixes Woodstock Museum Earmark In Labor-HHS Bill
10/19/07 Coburn Nets Another Victory in Realigning Funds for Spending Bill Earmark
10/19/07 Not yet 'Age of Aquarius' for taxpayers
10/19/07 Flower Power Fades: Senate Cuts Woodstock Earmark
10/19/07 GOP Moves to Halt Money for Woodstock
10/19/07 Senate quashes $1M grant for museum at Woodstock site
10/19/07 Senate To Vote On Moving Earmark Money To Kids' Health
10/18/07 Current record
10/18/07 Grassroots Activist: Tom Coburn
10/18/07 Museum at Bethel Woods: A political attraction?
10/18/07 Editorial: $250 million here, $2.4 billion there and pretty soon it’s real money
10/18/07 GOP Hits Democrats’ Projects in Labor-HHS Bill
10/18/07 Opinion: Flower-Power Pork
10/17/07 Coburn Measures Target Hollywood, Woodstock and Leahy
10/17/07 Sen. Coburn's crusade: Bending ears against 'earmarking'
10/17/07 Timing of gifts stirs 'earmark' debate
10/17/07 Vermont Nets Federal Grant To Inventory Barns
10/16/07 Senate threatens to withhold funds if 2010 census is not online
10/16/07 Budget hurdles threaten 2010 census
10/15/07 M4 competitor testing underway
10/12/07 Coburn calls for campaign finance reform
10/11/07 Bill would cut Justice aid to suspect groups
10/11/07 Coburn pummels pork spending
10/11/07 Coburn Speaks to Law Students
10/10/07 Industry Groups Win Federal Grants
10/7/07 Going Coconut over Florida earmark
10/5/07 GOP Hopefuls, Defending the Dream
10/1/07 Bill to Strengthen VA Suicide Prevention Programs Passes Senate
10/1/07 C-5 Nunn-McCurdy Breach Chided By Lockheed Backers