After more than 100 votes in four days, the lesson from last week’s spending debate in the House is that nobody’s pet projects are safe anymore.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, watched lawmakers vote to defund a military project that pumps millions of dollars into his district, and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, saw her colleagues vote to end federal funding for a park in her San Francisco congressional district.
President Obama also took some shots to the chin in the bill known as a continuing resolution — or “CR” in Capitol Hill-speak. Lawmakers opposed his environmental agenda and an overwhelming bipartisan majority vote to block his administration’s rules designed to clamp down on for-profit schools.
In the span of one week, the House probably took votes on as many big issues as it did in the entire last Congress, including the war in Afghanistan, health care, environmental regulations, the extent of federal power, and whether the Defense Department should be sponsoring NASCAR race teams.
“Hundreds of amendments were considered, the debate offered everyone a chance to be heard, and the legislation now contains changes that reflect the many varied interests of families, communities and businesses across the country,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, Kentucky Republican, who ran the floor for much of the epic proceedings.
The spending bill passed by a 235-189 vote early Saturday after a four-day slog when House members filed 584 amendments, held recorded votes on about 100 amendments and passed 70 of them, including repeated votes to defund special projects that have been protected for years by senior lawmakers.
The measure funds the government for the rest of fiscal year 2011.
But with Mr. Obama’s veto threat and with the Democrat-led Senate unlikely to accept the overall level of cuts, observers said, the process may be the most important thing to come out of the House debate.
Mrs. Pelosi, now the House minority leader, said the host of amendments didn’t advance job creation.
“It’s interesting, but it’s not what needs to happen,” the California Democrat said. “It would be important for the Republicans to get serious about what their priorities are, and not to bring, what, 500 amendments to the table.”
Still, freed from tight debate rules for the first time in years, her fellow Democrats were just as active as Republicans in offering amendments and often voted for Republicans’ amendments.
That includes the 15 Democrats who helped the GOP pass an amendment to defund the Presidio Trust, a public-private partnership in Mrs. Pelosi’s district that runs a stunning bit of parkland right next to the Golden Gate.
The Presidio is supposed to be self-sufficient by 2013, but the amendment, offered by Rep. Thomas Reed, New York Republican, would end federal funding in 2011 by canceling $15 million designated for the park. The amendment passed by a vote of 239-186.
For Mr. Boehner, the hit to his district could be even bigger. Lawmakers voted to end a $450-million-a-year contract to build an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. One of the key plants involved in building the engine is in Mr. Boehner’s hometown of Cincinnati.