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Well-known member
Feb 13, 2005
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Gilroy/San Martin, Ca.
As many of you know, both the House and the Senate voted on a number of important bills at the end of last week. Below is a short summary of those votes. Much more information and the lastest news is always available on OMB Watch's website

The most surprising result from last week was that the House rejected the Labor/HHS appropriations conference report. The vote (209-224) saw 22 Republicans join with every Democrat to oppose the bill. The 22 Republicans were a motley group, with some fiscal conservatives who routinely vote against spending bills for social programs, others from rural areas who were angered by cuts to rural health facilities, and others who voted no after losing specific earmarks for their districts.

The bill will now go back to conference and Congress has until December 17 to modify it so it can pass both chambers before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires. But there may be another snag as a spokesman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) said he is leaning against holding a second conference on the bill and prefers a long-term extension of the CR currently in place. So there is a chance programs included in the bill will be funded at lower levels under the CR for all of FY 2006. Funding the Labor/HHS programs under a year-long CR would cut $1.4 billion more from the bill than if the conference report was approved - a fact that Chairman Lewis certainly understands. Six appropriations bills still await signature by the President, but only the Labor and Defense bills have not been completed by Congress.

House Reconciliation Spending Bill
After postponing the vote an entire week, the GOP leadership finally held a vote (in the middle of the night) on the budget reconciliation bill, which cuts $50 billion from entitlement spending. The House passed the measure by a vote of 217-215. Fourteen Republican members voted along with all House Democrats against the bill, which was modified (albeit slightly) over the course of the week in order to gain the support of enough moderate GOP members to pass this egregious measure.

Senate Reconciliation Tax Bill
After a similar week delay, the Senate voted late Thursday night on the reconciliation tax bill. After spending the day considering amendments, the Senate passed $60 billion worth of tax cuts by a vote of 64-33, with 15 Democrats supporting the measure and four Republicans opposing. Although these additional tax cuts are not offset, there is a silver lining as Sen. Olympia Snowe's stand during the Finance Committee markup of the measure forced Chairman Grassley to remove a provision extending low tax rates for capital gains and dividends, which primarily benefits high-income households. Her success may be short-lived however, as it appears the Senate GOP leade rship is intent on sticking the provision back in during conference negotiations.
The House will vote on their version of the reconciliation tax bill shortly after they return to Washington the week of December 5. The GOP leadership is confident they have the votes to pass this measure, but may again run into obstacles with moderate Republicans who are uneasy with cutting spending for the poor to pay for additional tax cuts, primarily for the wealthy.

Much Work Still to be Done
Neither one of the reconciliation bills (spending or tax) are final yet and their final passage is certainly not assured. The House and Senate versions of both the spending and the tax bills are drastically different, and because of the thin margins they passed by the first time around, creating a version that will pass both chambers will be extremely difficult. There is still time to tell your representatives that you oppose their actions to cut taxes for the rich in order to finance program cuts affecting the poor. Take Action Today!

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