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NATIONAL POLITICS & POLICY | Bush Signs $555B Omnibus Spending Bill

NATIONAL POLITICS & POLICY | Bush Signs $555B Omnibus Spending Bill
[Jan. 2, 2008]

President Bush last week signed a $555 billion fiscal year 2008 spending bill (HR 2764) that combines 11 unfinished spending measures, the Washington Post reports (Gardner, Washington Post, 12/27/07).

The omnibus bill maintains funding for community-based abstinence-only education programs at the FY 2007 level of $113 million. The Title X family planning program will receive $300 million, a $17 million increase over last year's funding level of $283 million. The bill also includes a $20 million increase for overseas family planning programs and grants overseas HIV/AIDS programs relief from compliance with abstinence-education mandates. The measure does not include language to overturn or loosen the so-called "Mexico City" policy, which prohibits U.S. family planning aid to overseas health organizations that also engage in abortion-related activities with non-U.S. funds (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 12/20/07).

Bush voiced concern about special-project spending included in the bill, the AP/Washington Times reports (Feller, Washington Times, 12/27/07). "I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation," Bush said, adding, "Congress dropped into the bill nearly 9,800 earmarks that total more than $10 billion. These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful government spending." Bush said he hoped Congress would help "rein in government spending" when he submits his FY 2009 budget proposal in February.

White House spokesperson Scott Stanzel said that although "no decisions have been made," Bush has directed White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle to "look at avenues by which the federal government can address those earmarks" (Neuman/Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times, 12/27/07). Jim Manley, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said, "This administration is in no position to lecture anyone on fiscal responsibility," adding, "Actions speak louder than words. And the fact is, half of all earmarks were directed by the president and his administration" (Washington Post, 12/27/07).