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Legislative Branch Spending Bill Attached to CR

Democrats attached the legislative branch spending bill to the continuing resolution Wednesday night in an attempt to get Congress’ own budget passed before the 2010 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.The House and Senate passed their versions of the bill months ago, but Congressional leaders only sent it to conference Wednesday. It’s a small piece of the appropriations pie — the final version is expected to equal about $5 billion — but it can be controversial because it includes the budget for Congressional staff and legislative branch projects.Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, immediately criticized Wednesday’s move, calling it “outrageous— and arguing that other appropriations bills are more pressing. “Funding the operations of the Capitol and Members’ offices is clearly not the most pressing concern facing the American people,— he said in a statement. “However, it appears members of the Democrat leadership would rather make sure their own expenses are paid before approving funds to build roads, improve water quality, provide food assistance to the hungry, or protect our nation from dangerous criminals and terrorists.—But Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who heads the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, countered that the bill was “ready to go,— so there was no reason to wait. Republicans, she added, made a similar move, successfully, in 2006 when passing the next year’s legislative branch funding bill.“What would be more pressing than keeping the government running?— she said. “We need to make sure that in addition to moving our appropriations bill through the process, we also move the CR.—The CR would keep the government running at fiscal 2009 levels for 30 days, giving Members time to pass individual appropriations bills for the next fiscal year.

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