Confrontation Strategy: Using the Powers of the Purse

Brian Zick

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Mark Kleiman suggests that Democrats selectively defund certain non-essential executive branch operations - such as "the White House press office, political office, personnel office, and counsel's office" - until Bush cooperates with congressional inquiries. He says appropriations bills can't be filibustered, and conference reports are not subject to amendment, so if House conferees all insist on maintaining the cuts, any such bill coming out of conference with no funding for those offices would be the only appropriations option available for vote. Republicans could either vote for the bill with the cuts, or else vote for no appropriations at all. Bush could veto the legislation, but then he would be the one responsible for shutting down the necessary operations of government, which such a bill would of course fully fund.

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