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House Administration Accedes to Thomas’ Committee Funding Request

Giving Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) the additional money he wanted, the House Administration Committee again brought up the biennial committee funding resolution Thursday afternoon — a day after Republican leadership pulled the bill because Thomas objected to his panel’s allotment.

The $252.5 million measure passed by unanimous consent Thursday evening.

Key Members were furious that Thomas single-handedly held up a bipartisan, otherwise noncontroversial measure for $160,000. The Ways and Means Committee was set to receive an 8.3 percent boost, totaling $1.2 million, over its funding for the 107th Congress.

“I think he plays that card too often,” one GOP lawmaker said, referring to Thomas’ notorious temper. “People are upset.”

House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) said Thursday afternoon that Thomas would be given the $160,000 he wanted. “If he feels he needs more money, we’ll work with him. He has a lot of work product,” Ney said.

Asked if he feared the precedent that such a move would set, Ney said he didn’t feel the situation was necessarily precedent-setting, calling the changes just “tweaking.”

When cobbling together the committee funding resolution from 20 chairmen’s requests, Ney and ranking member John Larson (D-Conn.) pared down the total from $50 million more than what was allotted in the 107th to a $30 million increase. Both figures include $11 million for the new Homeland Security Committee.

All in all, Thomas’ panel didn’t do too badly relative to some other committees. His request was reduced by only 3.3 percent, or $545,000, far less than the majority of panels, many of which saw their requests reduced by almost 20 percent, or more than $1 million.

“I submitted a very real, honest budget request,” Thomas said, adding that he was interested only in getting a “real, honest” budget for his panel.

A well-placed Republican source indicated that Thomas threatened to hold up the tax bill unless he got his way, something he dismissed.

“Oh, grow up. Nobody does that,” the Californian said. “I make arguments on the basis of facts. Apparently my factual argument was [listened to] because the bill didn’t come up yesterday. Do you think that really works? That’s how kids throw tantrums.”

But tantrum was the way one House source described the incident.

“You know the kid on the playground who is never happy with the toy he has, who always wants the toy someone else is playing with and will whine and pout until he gets it? Once again, Bill Thomas was that kid,” said the source.

Ney said Thomas called him personally to hash out his concerns. Ney said he heard through the “rumor mill” that Thomas, who formerly chaired House Administration, was making this personal. But Ney explained: “Bill Thomas has never said this to me.”

Sources said Thomas was angered by the fact that the three committees on which Ney sits — House Administration, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Financial Services — did relatively well with about 15 percent increases.

“No, I am not envious,” Thomas said, noting that he had observed the increases on those committee in particular.

Ney defended the allocations, noting that Transportation and Infrastructure could reasonably have been given more. He also said he doesn’t sit on any of the committees — Rules, Intelligence and Budget — that received their entire budget requests.

Overall, Ney said, Thomas’ changes only delayed the process one day.

“That’s all it was. It wasn’t the end of the world,” he said.

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