NAICU Washington Update

Congress Passes Trillion Dollar Budget

Congress has passed a trillion dollar spending blueprint on mostly party line votes, and has laid out plans to write the FY 2009 appropriations bills this summer. The budget plan allows Congress to spend $24.5 billion more than the president requested on the 12 annual appropriations bills, including $8.4 billion more than the president's budget for the education category.

The Senate made the first move on June 4, with quick closing remarks and a vote of 48 to 45. On June 5, with very little debate, the House passed S. Con. Res. 70 by a vote of 214 to 210.

How the administration reacts to the subcommittee bills will determine how much further into the process Congress ventures this year. House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) has already stated that if the president lobs veto threats and does not offer to negotiate, then Obey will hold off further action until a new president is elected. While no one expects any bills to be sent to the president, writing the subcommittee bills is an important step for the Democratic Congress in laying out its funding priorities in an election year

The House Appropriations Committee has released its schedule of hearings, which includes ratifying the subcommittee allocations on June 18, writing the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee bill on June 19, and taking that bill - which includes student aid - to the full committee on June 25. Our understanding is that the Senate subcommittee plans to write its education spending bill on June 24.

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