Top Democrat claims 'overwhelmingly positive' response to move to defund the Vice President
While some would argue that Dick Cheney has sought unlimited power for his office in President George W. Bush's White House, the Vice President could soon be facing some major limits on his government bank account. A top House Democrat has announced his intention to offer an amendment to strip funding from the yearly budget for the Office of the Vice President.
"On the Hill, there's an overwhelmingly positive reaction," a spokesman for Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) told RAW STORY Monday afternoon.
He went on, "This is an important amendment and question, and it's a choice that the Vice President should make. He cannot be allowed to accept executive branch funding and not adhere to executive branch rules. There is no fourth branch of government."
On Saturday, RAW STORY's Josh Catone first reported on Emanuel's planned amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008. Emanuel announced his plan in reaction to the House Oversight Committee's revelation last week that Cheney's office had argued that for the purposes of certain laws, the Vice President's office was not an agency in the executive branch.
Multiple Democratic Congressional staffers told RAW STORY that the bill will come up for a vote on Wednesday or Thursday. And staff for Rep. Emanuel, who is the chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives, believed he would have the votes to shrink the Vice President's budget to zero.
Emanuel's amendment could inject some excitement into a droll funding bill that normaly gets scant attention on an annual basis. The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, in addition to funding the White House, covers the budgets of the Supreme Court, the Treasury Department, the District of Columbia, and a variety of other independent government agencies.
In the FY 2008 budget, which was approved last week, the House Appropriations Committee stated without any controversy that it "recommends an appropriation of $4,432,000 for the Office of the Vice President, the same as fiscal year 2007 level and the amount requested by the President."
RAW STORY was awaiting reply from the office of Rep. Jose Serrano, who chairs the Financial Services Subcommittee and will likely direct the debate on the spending bill, to see if he would support Emanuel's effort. But there appeared to be no obvious procedural barrier to the Illinois Democrat's move.
The defunding of the Vice President's office could also get some support from Democrats in the Senate.
"That might not be a bad idea," Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said on Fox News Sunday, according to the New York Daily News, when asked if defunding the Vice President was an option that would be considered when the Senate receives the House's version of the budget bill.
How the White House will react if Cheney is defunded by Congress is still up for grabs. In Monday's Daily Press Briefing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino was asked "Does the White House then also believe he should get funding for the vice president's office from the legislative branch instead of from the executive branch?"
"I don't know," she responded before arguing it was a constitutional question she couldn't answer.