Conservative members of the Democratic Party were unhappy about how the $787 billion stimulus was crafted, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi today made, at least, an overture toward their philosophy of spending restraint. Pelosi asked every committee chair in the House to look for ways to trim federal spending in their upcoming round of budget hearings. (With President Obama set to release his budget proposal next week, Congress will begin deliberations on the budget soon.)
In a letter, Pelosi asked the chairs to "conduct rigorous oversight of all aspects of federal spending and government operations to help achieve deficit reduction and long term fiscal responsibility" and to "scrutinize our budget, promote efficiency, and reduce waste in government spending."
The request begins to satisfy a new rule, proposed by Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition and passed by the House in January, that would require committees to hold at least three hearings per year on waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal agencies that fall within their purview.
With the stimulus having thrown regular spending rules momentarily out the window (calling for Pay-Go a week after an unfunded $787 billion behemoth seems a bit incongruous), Pelosi has signaled to Congress' deficit hawks, among them an influential faction of her own party, that party leaders will keep an eye on restraint and seek to trim in other areas as billions are spent to bail out the financial sector and the public.