The Pending House Iraq Supplemental Spending Bill Posted by: McQ
on Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The fault lines among the House Democrats is becoming more and more evident as they attempt to form a majority of 218 votes to pass their Iraq bill. Interestingly, opposition is coming from the two extremes of the party. On the one hand the "Out of Iraq Now" caucus led by Maxine Waters is planning to vote "no" and many of the Blue Dog Dems are planning to vote "no" but for vastly different reasons. (If you're interested in looking at the bill, it's available here, but be warned, it's a 6MB pdf.)
That speaks to the reasons behind the arm twisting going on and the insistence by Democrats of larding the bill with pork as an incentive for others to vote. So much for clean bills and the end of reckless spending on pet projects promised by the Democrats. Obviously those promises are only good if they're not committed to getting their way by any means necessary in Congress.
One of the Democrats' chief designated vote counters, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), is actively working against the Iraq war spending bill. The leadership's senior chief deputy whip, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), spoke passionately against it on the House floor. And one of the whip organization's regional representatives, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), is implacably opposed.
So you have to ask, who are the whips representing?
On the Blue Dog side, one of the leaders of the Blue Dogs has been successfully turned:
After the caucus meeting, Rep. John Tanner (Tenn.), a leader of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, said that he, too, will vote for the bill. "The alternative is an open-ended bleeding of our blood and treasure, with no end in sight and no pressure on the Iraqi government to make the changes necessary," he said.
But Tanner goes on to note that he'll not pressure any of the other Blue Dogs to vote for the bill calling it a bill they have to decide on themselves.
So how does it stand at the moment in terms of vote count?
According to a recent survey of House Democrats by The Hill, there are approximately 11 "no's/leaning no's" and 35 "undecided's/no comments" on the emergency spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is important because if just 12 Democrats oppose the bill, it will fail.
Now to some details. In case you were wondering what is of supreme importance to a supplemental spending bill for the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a look at this list will supply that answer:
* $74 million for a peanut storage program that pays storage fees as farmers market their crop. * $750 million to cover shortfalls in the State Children's Health Insurance Program. * $400 million to subsidize rural northwest counties who have been suffering from declining timber sales since the mid-1990s. * $3.7 billion to compensate farmers and ranchers for losses suffered during the last 3 crop years. * $25 million for spinach growers effected by the e-coli health advisory. * $60 million for Indian tribes and fisherman affected by declining salmon runs in the Northwest. * $50 million for asbestos abatement at the Capitol Hill Power Plant. * $140 million for livestock owners, citrus growers affected by the '05 hurricanes. * $120 million for the shrimp and menhaden industries. * $2.5 billion for homeland security projects such as additional cargo screening at ports and airports. * $283 million for extending the small dairy farm income loss contract program. * $1.3 billion more for the Army Corps of Engineers to work on the New Orleans levees. * $910 million to waive local matching requirements for the FEMA disaster aid program. * $1 billion for pandemic flu preparedness. * $16 million for maintenance and security improvements to the Capitol Hill office buildings. * $25 million for the Small Business Administration disaster-loan program.
Some may argue that a few of these programs are important. Then they should survive nicely in bills of their own. But it is also apparent that many of these expenditures are in this bill specifically to attract votes in Congress. Earmarks be damned, these a blatant bribes for votes with your money.
Other details of the bill include arbitrary deadlines such as the date certain for withdrawal regardless of the situation. That's absolute insanity, especially since it seems apparent that some progress is being made in the diplomatic, political and military spheres in Iraq.
Speaking of that, Democrats have been very vocal about the fact that the solution in Iraq is dependent upon progress in all three of those spheres, not just the military.
Everyone agrees. But then they attempt to short-circuit progress in those spheres. A perfect example has to do with the Provincial Rebuilding Teams or PRT. These teams are a vital part of the political/economic sphere. Combat brigades consider them to be a key "force mulitplier" in the overall war against the insurgency and are screaming for more of them.
Right now, in the two hottest areas of Iraq (al Anbar province and Baghdad) there are two of these teams, one in each area. The supplemental budget put forward by the White House calls for funding 6 more. 2 more for Anbar and 4 more for Baghdad.
But, when listening in on a conference call yesterday, I heard a senior administration official point out that Democrats had cut 200 million from the budget request that dealt specifically with those PRT increases. They intend to spend that money on shrimp and spinach instead.
After all the screaming and yelling Democrats have done about readiness, equipment shortages and the like, they cut funding to one of the most powerful tools our troops have to make this new strategy (hold/build) work and then, with straight faces, tell us they support the troops. This is sheer madness and, at least in my opinion, points to a party which is determined to have it's way regardless of the situation or it's national security implications. And that's flatly irresponsible and deserves unreserved condemnation.
This bullcrap really gets under my skin. Like i want to go and yell at this bunch of idiots in office. AGHH i wish there was a way i could yell at them. Tying on all these extras to the bill its retard its sneaky its skeevy and its well...its lame and stupid and anything else thats bad. It really annoys me to no end. I dont have words for what i think about this crap. I just dont.
I think the GOP should propose a clean cut bill to end funding in Iraq, a simple straightforward with no tacked on BS. Force the dems to put up or shut up.
If you can’t convince them with logic, frighten them with political retribution. If that doesn’t work, bribe them. That’s the way politics work. Another word for Pork is Bribe. The way congress works is “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
Again there is nothing new under the Sun. This has been going on in America since before the Constitutional Convention, and in the world since the first tribal organizations. Expecting otherwise is utopianism at its worst.
The bill is an emergency supplemental spending bill. Many of the items you imply are pork are actually unfunded items that were authorized and required under pubilc law.
Here’s some facts:
1. The last do nothing congress failed to pass a budget. The reason they failed is because they were in fact trying to load every bill with real pork and real earmarks. You know, the kind of money that goes into specific hands and districts.
2. The current bill is a supplemental spending bill that was necessary because the previous congress didn’t do its job.
3. The majority of the line items that unrelated to the war are to cover salaries and obligations under existing law. That includes the Katrina aid, which was enacted, but not funded because the prior prior congress screwed up. That also includes the spinach farmers who lost their crops because of the FDA order to pull the stuff off the shelves. Do conservatives now support uncompensated taking? BTW, that provision only compensates the growers for up to 75% of their crop value. A real conservative would demand they get 100%
4. The only real new discretionary items are a center for polytrauma in the VA, you know, the kind of place that treats people for traumatic brain injury, and new spending for emergency psychiatric care for those coming home with PTSD. Oh yeah, and prostetic research for those coming home with missing limbs. I believe that Bush tried to cut that.
5.You might also look at section 5001 (it’s on page 139), which is actually an anti earmarking provision, which puts restrictions and oversight on sole source contracting.