As you know, the Budget Resolution contains a so-called "Rainy Day Fund" that would REQUIRE the Budget Committee to approve non-defense related emergency spending in excess of the amount stated within the Budget Resolution. The threshold number plucked out of the sky by the Budget Committee for both mandatory and discretionary emergencies is $4.3 B, which, according to Dale's calculations, is at least $3 B less than the ten year (median) average for just natural disaster spending. When we have discussed this with Leadership their only response is that "it can be adjusted in conference". They missed the point: we want it out.
What Leadership apparently wanted was to not cede control of this process to either us or the Budget Committee. So their response was to develop yet another procedural hurdle for us alone (even though the authorizers can dip into the emergency kitty, they are not subject to this particular procedural hurdle). This procedural loop for us (which is attached) was drafted no later than last Thursday but was not shared with us until just before Noon today. After much internal discussion and trips back and forth to the Parliamentarians, we have decided that what they are suggesting for us is at least as bad as what the Budget Committee did, and
ACCORDINGLY, Chairman Lewis has instructed us to inform you that, unless the Rainy Day Fund and this new Point of Order are dropped/not included through action of the Rules Committee tonight, he will NOT SUPPORT passage of the RULE and/or the BUDGET RESOLUTION tomorrow. He also requested that you inform your Subcommittee Chairman of his position in this regard and asks that they likewise support the Committee. We will be notifying other Members of the Committee (both sides of the aisle) as well as Leadership that we are taking this action.
Please call if you have any questions.
My guess is that given that Congress just spent billions on emergency Katrina relief, most Americans probably think it perfectly reasonable to at least try and anticipate some of the spending likely to ensue from upcoming natural disasters. But nobody ever said the Appropriators were particularly reasonable.