Omnibus Approval Seen, But Little Interest In New Stimulus

Key senators predicted Sunday that Congress will approve the $410 billion FY09 omnibus appropriations bill this week, but were divided about whether billions of dollars more should be spent to bail out U.S. financial institutions and automakers.

Speaking on the Sunday morning television talk shows, Senate Banking ranking member Richard Shelby and Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., said the Senate should be able to break a logjam this week and pass the omnibus, which contains the nine unfinished appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year.


"I think ultimately they'll get the votes to pass the bill, but I think there are substantive and procedural problems with this bill" Bayh said on ABC's "This Week," who opposes it. "I think this is a time to show that we can economize, do better than across-the-board increases that are many times the rate of inflation."


"I think we ought to fund the government and move on," said Shelby, an Appropriations Committee member who has publicly defended the earmarks he has in the bill.


But some Senate and House Republicans continue to hammer the Obama administration over the bill because it includes more than $8 billion in earmarks, contrasting that with Obama's pledge to restrict such directed spending.


OMB Director Peter Orszag said in two separate appearances on CNN's "State of the Union" and CBS' "Face the Nation" that the bill would be different had the administration written it.


"Next month we're going to start the process on the fiscal year 2010 budget that'll be under our watch and the game's going to be a lot different," Orszag said on "Face the Nation."


But House Minority Whip Cantor fired back later on "State of the Union," charging that what Orszag said does not have any credibility.


"If you make a promise, people expect that you live up to it. And that's why this administration's refusal to go in and change this bill, I think, is a false position. There is no way anyone could take what Mr. Orszag has said with any credibility," he said.


Lawmakers were also divided over whether banks and the big automakers should be allowed to fail.


Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on NBC's "Meet the Press" he does not believe Congress has the political will to approve another multi-billion dollar round of spending for the Troubled Assets Relief Program.


"There's just not the political will unless something new happens," he said. "I think there's growing political will that we're not going to continue throwing good money after bad."


Shelby and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., both said on separate programs that some big banks should fail and troubled automakers should consider bankruptcy.


"We buried the small banks, we ought to bury some big ones," Shelby said on ABC's "This Week."


"Some of these banks have to fail," McCain said during a "Fox News Sunday" appearance. "You can't have zombie banks like the Japanese had and unfortunately that seems to be the path."


McCain added that "the best thing that could probably happen" for General Motors is to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


But Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., did not rule out the possibility of nationalizing banks. "There's what I call good nationalization and bad nationalization," he said on "Meet the Press."

Presented by

Cyra Master

Cyra Master is a W.E.B. Du Bois fellow at the Atlantic. Previously, she was an editor at the nonprofit Center for Law and Social Policy and was a reporter for the New Hampshire Eagle Tribune. She is a graduate of Emerson College.

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