CoRev on the Senate’s Recess

This is by CoRev…

Captain Ed, of Captains Quarters, has an interesting analysis of options for President Bush in this budget kerfuffle. We have two situations that could be improved by simple counter moves.

1) The Senate is still in session (in order to block any Bush recess appointments). If the Republicans were smart, they would send in somebody to demand a quorum call, forcing a recess if it were to fail. How could it not fail? Nearly all senators, Democratic and Republican, would be forced to return. None would be happy, and few would actually return. Of course ramifications for the future could be less than perfect for the President.

2)Congress has passed an Omnibus Spending Bill but it is loaded with earmarks.

The omnibus spending bill made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue this week, and it could have slid all the way down on the grease it contains from over 9,000 earmarks.

The President has requested his staff to review ways to eliminate wasteful spending as represented by the 9,000+ earmarks included in this bill, and there may be a simple way. Issue an Executive Order eliminating spending for earmarks included the conference reports, but not in the actual legislation. Conference Reports are attached after a law is passed, and are not voted upon.

This would have the effect of implementing the announced but not followed Democratic Policy of reducing and accounting for the number of earmarks.

Congress can blame itself for leaving this loophole, and it stems from their eagerness to airdrop earmarks rather than account for them as promised. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid passed reform rules that supposedly barred earmarks in conference reports. However, 90% of the earmarks in the omnibus bill never entered the legislative language, making a mockery of their claims to reform.

Brian Reidl of the Heritage Foundation has an explanation of the President’s option.

Most earmarks are not written into the actual appropriations bills that are signed into law. Rather, they are included in conference reports, which are explanatory statements that accompany the legislation to the President’s desk. Because they are not technically part of the bill, the Executive Branch is not legally bound to implement conference

In reality, it would represent a form of line item veto, which could be wielded by this and future presidents. In the short run it
certainly would make earmark legislation much more transparent.

This post was by CoRev.