The White House on the spending bill

The White House has agreed to an omnibus spending bill that extends appropriations through September 2017. The omnibus averts the dreaded “government shutdown” that would have ensued without agreement among the powers that be. The bill requires 60 votes in the Senate, so the Democrats had final say over the bill. It was going nowhere without their agreement.

Early yesterday evening (Eastern time), White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short provided an on the record telephone briefing to a small group of conservative media representatives. The briefing was provided on a few minutes’ notice. I appreciated the invitation and the punctuality with which the briefing was brought off. The call went live precisely at the appointed hour.

Catching up on the bill after the call, I learned it is the traditional 1,665 page monstrosity. McClatchy parses a few of the notable components here.

As for the briefing, I can say this. It was brief.

I take it that the the outcome represents the traditional Democratic rout of Republicans (now including the White House). We haven’t gotten tired of winning on this front; we have gotten tired of losing. The Democrats are feeling emboldened and encouraged.

Short characterized the border security spending as “a step toward FY [fiscal year] 2018.” I take it that the administration looks to the FY 2018 budget to redeem the time (my words, not his). On this occasion the administration has chosen surrender as the better part of valor (my words, not his).

Short highlighted “several elements” of the omnibus. He itemized $21 billion for defense and $1.5 billion for border security. He paused here to note that the bill did not include costs sharing reduction payments to bail out Obamacare insurers. He also noted that the administration had “fought off” (the continuation of, I think) tax credits for renewable energy. He added that the bill did include funding for school choice in the District of Columbia and asserted that this represented the keeping of a campaign promise.

Short wound up his summary with two comments. He observed that the bill needs 60 votes in the Senate and therefore needs to be bipartisan. He nevertheless took it as an accomplishment that spending caps are kept in place.

Short stayed on the line to answer all the questions we had (I counted four). If I had had more time to collect my thoughts, I would have asked how the administration views the bill. I take it from the the few elements that Harty chose to highlight that the administration makes no great claims on its behalf.

After attending the White House reception for conservative media last week, I expressed the hope that the administration would reach out to outlets such as Power Line to the detriment of its enemies among the mainstream media. My invitation to join the call yesterday came via the White House press office email account from which I received the invitation to the reception. I hope the outreach will continue in the future.