WASHINGTON – Today, Dave Obey (D-WI), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, filed a $463.5 billion measure to complete work on last year’s appropriations bills. He co-wrote the measure with Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The House is expected to consider the measure on Wednesday.

Last year, the Republican leadership passed a budget so unrealistic they were unable to complete work on 9 of the 11 annual appropriations bills.

In December, Byrd and Obey announced a plan to wrap up the bills in a joint funding resolution. Under the measure filed today, most programs will continue to be funded at the 2006 levels adjusted for increased pay costs. Limited adjustments were made within the confines of the Republican budget resolution to meet critical needs including: meeting new needs in Veterans Healthcare and Defense Health programs; making significant investments in public housing; increasing funding for scientific research; and increasing the Labor, Health and Education bill to keep up with inflation, a promise the Republican leadership had made but never delivered.

The recent explosion in earmarks has left Congress unable to ensure the integrity of the system and public confidence is at an all time low. Obey and Byrd decided to place a moratorium on the practice until the new, reformed process is fully in place.

The joint resolution is free of earmarks. Title I, Section 112 states:

Any language specifying an earmark in a committee report or statement of managers accompanying an appropriations Act for fiscal year 2006 shall have no legal effect with respect to funds appropriated by this division.

This decision does not come without pain. Many worthwhile earmarks were cut including the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Points of Light Foundation, and America’s Promise. Hopefully, whatever short term pain this causes will be more than made up for in the long run.

“I don’t expect people to love this proposal, I don’t love this proposal, and we probably have made some wrong choices,” said Obey. “But in contrast to last year’s Congress, which decided to duck these choices, at least we have made them in order to bring last year’s issues to a conclusion so we can turn the page and deal with next year’s priorities.”

Attached are the Byrd-Obey announcement from December and a summary of the measure.

Read a summary: http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/CRSummary.pdf

Read the Byrd-Obey December to learn how we got here, and why they chose the path they did: http://appropriations.house.gov/News/pr_061211.shtml

View the Text of the Joint Funding Resolution: http://www.rules.house.gov/110/text/110th_hjres20.pdf

Compare it to the FY 2006 public laws: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app06.html