Senate-House deadlock over CHR budget remote
The prospect of a deadlock between the Senate and House of Representatives in deciding the 2018 budget of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was remote but not impossible, an opposition lawmaker said on Tuesday.
“A deadlock to my mind is far-fetched because both chambers would like to approve a budget for 2018,” said Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.
“Still, it is a possibility if both Houses are intransigent in their respective positions,” he added.
The two chambers will meet in a bicameral conference committee to reconcile differences in their respective versions of next year’s proposed P3.767 trillion national budget.
Last week, the House approved on second reading an appropriations bill that gave only a P1,000 budget each to three agencies it deemed to have performed badly, including the CHR, sparking a public outcry.
In a press briefing, Lagman said the chamber could still offset the backlash it suffered.
“Making amends is never too late,” he said, noting that the 293-member chamber still had sufficient time to restore the CHR’s P649-million budget proposal in the small committee formed to accept amendments to the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
The small committee is imbued with plenary power to effect amendments to the GAB before its final version is voted upon on third reading.
The members of the small committee are Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas; appropriations committee chair Karlo Nograles; Minority Leader Danilo Suarez; appropriations committee vice chairs Maricar Zamora, Ricky Sandoval, and Marc Sambar; and ways and means committee chair Dakila Cua.
“The small committee receives, collates and approves, once warranted, the various proposed amendments from the Members of the House. It can also introduce amendments on its own like reinstating the reduced budget of agencies,” Lagman said.
If the Senate and the House reach a compromise on the CHR budget, he said President Duterte still had the power of veto, although Malacañang previously said it would not intervene in the position of the two chambers on the CHR budget.
“But that is a legal option for him,” Lagman said.
But he said Mr. Duterte might think twice before doing that.
“If the House suffered so much backlash, I think there will be more backlash for the President if he vetoes the restored budget for the CHR,” he said.
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