Obama mum on Cromnibus veto
The White House is refusing to say whether President Obama will veto a bill to fund most of the government through next September, apparently waiting to see which way the political winds are blowing before deciding.
The major issue is the plan by Speaker Boehner to fund the entire government through the end of the fiscal year except the Department of Homeland Security, which will be funded only through March. Republicans want to have another shot at defunding the president's amnesty orders when they have control of both chambers of Congress.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has agreed to support the plan, as has the #2 Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer.
The White House's preference, Earnest says, is for Congress to pass a bill that funds the entire government through September, not just most U.S. agencies.
"The administration believes that, based on the system we have in place, that Congress should fulfill their responsibility and pass a full-year budget for the full federal government," Earnest said. "That's common sense."
And the press secretary suggested House Republicans could have a hard time corralling the necessary Democratic votes with the carve-out for Homeland Security.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she does not support such a maneuver, although Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have signaled some openness to the measure. With some conservative members of the House likely to vote against the bill because it does not explicitly repudiate the president's executive action, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) may need Democratic votes to move the bill.
"The passage of a budget is likely going to require the support of at least some Democrats in the House," Earnest said. "I certainly don't speak for House Democrats, but I have seen that many of them share our view that any sort of piece of legislation that moves should be legislation that fully funds the full federal government for the full year and that they should do that without unnecessary ideological riders."
Pressed if the White House's refusal to issue a veto threat represented a tacit admission the president would sign the crominbus, Earnest sidestepped.
"I wouldn’t take it that way simply because, you know, we haven’t actually seen the proposal," Earnest said.
Separately, Earnest said the administration was also waiting to evaluate a package of temporary tax extenders progressing through Congress. Last week, the White House threatened to veto a long-term package being negotiated by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Reid over concerns it would make some business-friendly credits permanent without doing so for programs benefiting the working poor.
"The devil in a lot of these things is in the details," Earnest said.
Earlier Wednesday, President Obama said as a "general rule" the White House was "open to short-term extensions of many of those provisions."
Nose-counters in the House are unsure how many Democrats they might need to pass the measure. Some conservatives, like Rep. Steve King of Iowa, say they will vote for the bill even though it doesn't defund the amnesty plan. Many more will not. The leadership has yet to begin whipping the caucus into line on Cromnibus, so it's unclear just how many conservatives will vote against the measure.
Democrats in the House don't want to vote for a bill that Obama might veto, but there should be a sufficient number to pass the legislation, probably early next week. Meanwhile, conservatives are weighing whether to support another bill that would put the House on record opposing amnesty. It's a symbolic vote because the Democratic Senate will never consider it, and many on the right are dissatisfied that a straight up-or-down vote on defunding the agencies responsible for implementing amnesty won't be taken.
Cromnibus could fall apart in a heartbeat if it appears that Republicans haven't lined up enough support from conservatives to pass it. It's a strange day indeed when Speaker Boehner has to rely on Democrats to pass a GOP budget.