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House Approves Legislative Branch Spending Bill

The legislative branch appropriations spending bill, which grants more than $3.1 billion to run the House of Representatives and nine legislative branch agencies in fiscal 2008, was approved on the House floor Friday afternoon.

According to legislative branch subcommittee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Members made safety and security of the Capitol complex the top priority in the bill. The legislation earned praise from subcommittee ranking member Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) for being crafted mostly in a bipartisan manner. Republicans unsuccessfully offered a motion to recommit and House Administration ranking member Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) raised concerns that some of the report language accompanying the bill creates a conflict of oversight authority when it comes to House operations.

The bill was passed by a vote of 216 to 176.

Of the 23 amendments to the legislative branch bill filed with the House Rules Committee earlier this week, three were ruled in order and debated on the House floor. Two were eventually adopted, including an amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to reduce the number of copies of the Congressional Record printed by the Government Printing Office by cutting $3.2 million from the GPO’s printing and binding fund. The second amendment added to the bill would ensure that all light bulbs purchased for the Capitol complex are certified as energy efficient.

A third amendment, which was defeated, was offered by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and sought a 4 percent across-the-board reduction in legislative branch funding.

In offering his motion to recommit, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) wanted language struck from the bill that would allow Congress to move forward with building new committee office space in the old Food and Drug Administration building just off Capitol Hill. Kingston has called the project unnecessary and a misuse of $16 million in funding that could better be used elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Ehlers took to the floor to protest language in the report that “infringes on the jurisdiction” of his committee. He specifically pointed to language dealing with the management of House contracts and directives for several studies to be completed on aspects of House operations like disability access and food services.

“There’s an emerging pattern where the report language is being used to create administrative policy,” Ehlers said. “I want to ensure our good working relationship with the [legislative branch] subcommittee and that our jurisdiction will be honored.”

The legislative branch appropriations bill will now head to conference committee before being sent to the White House.

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