House Republicans Call for Spending Freeze

House Republicans Call for Spending Freeze

By Kyle Trygstad - February 24, 2009

With the Fiscal Responsibility Summit under way at the White House this afternoon, House Republicans are calling on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to freeze federal government spending levels. The House is taking up this week the omnibus spending bill that will fund the federal government through the end of September, and Republicans are requesting that funding not increase from its 2008 level.

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Pelosi has also called for fiscal responsibility in government spending, requesting last week that House committee chairmen conduct hearings to examine the budgets of federal agencies. However, Republicans are reacting to media reports that place the price tag of the bill at $410 billion, with thousands of earmarks -- from both Democrats and Republicans -- included in that total.

"After a spending spree that included the rest of the banking bailout, a massive stimulus bill, a call for a housing and mortgage bailout -- now the federal government is poised for the largest increase in discretionary spending since the Carter administration, with the exception of 9/11," Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said this morning during a pen-and-pad session with reporters. "We think that is inconsistent with the times in which we live and the expectation of the American people."

Republicans also want the bill to be released as soon as possible so members have sufficent time to read it prior to a vote. House members had little time to review the final version of the stimulus bill before it came to a vote prior to the President's Day recess.

"Democratic congressional leaders are reportedly rushing this bill to a vote this week, just days after passing a trillion-dollar 'stimulus' spending bill that no Member of Congress had even read," House Minority Leader John Boehner stated in a press release. "This is not fiscal responsibility; it is fiscal negligence, paid for by our children and grandchildren."

Pence said he understood that the bill has been completed for "several weeks," though Democrats have not released it.

"Since it's nearly a half-trillion dollars, we'd like a little more than the 12 hours that we had to review the so-called stimulus bill," Pence said. "You probably hear some frustration in my voice. We don't know what's in the omnibus spending bill because it has not been released to the public or to members of Congress, to my knowledge."

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Kyle Trygstad is a Washington correspondent for RealClearPolitics. Email him at: Follow him on Twitter @KyleTrygstad.

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