Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Clampdown on Funding Cheney in Peril

The Hill reports:

Senate Democratic appropriators’ clampdown on funding for Vice President Cheney may not survive a likely test today, as two centrists remain undecided on whether to prod Cheney to comply with an executive order on safeguarding classified information.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chairman of the appropriations panel in charge of Cheney’s office, added to his subcommittee’s spending bill a provision freezing money for the vice president until Cheney stops resisting a mandate that executive-branch entities report on their handling of classified data.

Cheney initially argued that his office is not part of the executive branch, garnering snickers from Democrats. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is likely to seek a vote on removing the funding freeze today, meaning that Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) would need to vote with their party to keep the provision alive.

Landrieu spokeswoman Stephanie Allen said her boss “is weighing her decision until the full committee markup, but she is hoping the administration and Congress can work out this dispute.”

Nelson, who supported Durbin’s provision in a Tuesday vote, declined to say whether he would continue voting to keep it alive. Instead, Nelson urged the administration to intercede by clarifying the executive order at issue, specifically exempting Cheney.

Durbin said he has spoken with senators hesitant about the funding curb and hopes that fellow Democrats continue their support.