Pet spending by Dems bogs down Afghan funding bill

July 19, 2010 08:30

Senate and House Democrats are headed for a clash this week over funding for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) races to clear the schedule for a long-awaited energy reform legislation.

By Alexander Bolton at The Hill

The Senate and House are squabbling over $22.8 billion House appropriators added to the supplemental bill. House lawmakers note that it’s fully paid for with offsets, such as $11.7 billion in rescissions to government programs that no longer need funding.

Senate Democratic leaders, however, doubt the House bill can pass their chamber with the extra spending, including $10 billion for an Education Jobs Fund to save 140,000 school jobs over the next year.

Senate passage is complicated by a pending veto threat from President Obama. He objects to the House proposal to pay for the education fund by rescinding money for the administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative — which rewards academically improved schools with grants.

A Senate Democratic aide said leaders will nevertheless schedule a vote on the House legislation. If it fails, the aide said, “we’ll have to figure out what to do.”

Senate sources say Reid is scheduling the vote to prove to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) it can’t pass the upper chamber. Reid could then ask the House to accept the Senate version, which costs $58.8 billion and provides $33 billion for the troops.


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