War Escalation Funding Bill to Get Lipstick, Eye Liner, Blush, Wig, New Hat, Nose Job
Looks like Senate wants to add LOTS of gloss to this pig including aid for every known type of disaster except war (although a bit of that too, with Agent Orange victims), and House wants to vote only once and only on the glossed-up Senate version.--DS
Senate panel readies war funding bill, flood aid
By ANDREW TAYLOR (AP)
WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat is fashioning a nearly $60 billion measure mixing war funding with U.S. disaster funds and aid for Haiti in hopes of jump-starting the long-delayed measure and clearing it through a nasty legislative thicket by Memorial Day.
The emerging measure, by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, is one of the few must-pass money bills remaining on the Senate's agenda in this election year. As such, it's attracting lots of attention from lawmakers hoping to win money for priorities that would otherwise have to wait until the fall — or later.
Inouye told reporters he hopes to hold a committee vote on the measure Thursday. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is vowing to pass the bill before Memorial Day.
The measure is a major headache for Democratic leaders, especially in the House, where liberals increasingly are opposed to the war in Afghanistan and refuse to vote for it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., recently said that passing war funding was the hardest task she tackled in the past year, and that this year's funding round will be no easier.
"This will be a heavy lift," Pelosi told reporters Tuesday.
House leaders want the Senate to go first, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said, so the House won't have to vote on war funding more than once.
At the core of the so-called supplemental bill is President Barack Obama's $33 billion request for Pentagon operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, $5.1 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief accounts and $2.8 billion in Haitian earthquake relief money. There's also about $4.5 billion in other foreign aid accounts, mostly for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., have won assurances they'll get flood relief for their states, while House Democrats are pressing for $600 million for a youth summer jobs program.
"This is a 1,000-year flood, absolutely unprecedented," Alexander said of the recent flooding in Tennessee. "It's by far the biggest disaster since President Obama has taken office."
He said repairing the damage would take a "massive amount of money."
Alexander is a member of both the Appropriations panel and the GOP's leadership team, and his support for the measure could help it through the Senate, where Republicans have become increasingly opposed to legislation adding to record budget deficits.
There's also likely to be pressure from the Oklahoma delegation for assistance in the wake of Monday's devastating tornadoes.
The administration, Capitol Hill aides said, is preparing a request to raise existing limits on payments from an oil spill liability and cleanup fund, a step that could help build momentum for the measure.
Aides described the state of play on condition of anonymity because the measure is still taking shape and won't be released until Thursday at the earliest.
Inouye's measure is likely to contain $13 billion in benefits for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange, but he said it will not contain more than $4 billion requested by the administration to finance settlements of long-standing lawsuits against the government, including $1.2 billion to remedy discrimination by the Agriculture Department against black farmers and $3.4 billion for mismanaging Indian trust funds.
CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS
May 11, 2010 – Updated 3:18 p.m.
Inouye Seeks To Mark Up War Supplemental This Week
By David Clarke and Kerry Young, CQ Staff
Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, said that he is working to mark up an emergency war spending bill this week.
“We will have plans this afternoon” regarding the scheduling, Inouye said on Tuesday.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., said earlier in the day that House leaders have suggested the Senate take the lead in writing and voting on the supplemental war funding request, with hopes that it could be cleared by Congress before the Memorial Day recess.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he has discussed the matter with Hoyer but hadn’t yet made a decision on whether the Senate should proceed first. The House usually goes first on appropriations bills, but that is a matter of tradition only —unlike tax bills, which the Constitution says must originate in the House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday that many Democrats in her chamber remain uneasy about the war in Afghanistan and reluctant to continue funding it.
Inouye said the supplemental bill that he intends to mark up soon will provide extra money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, the Obama administration has requested $33 billion for the Pentagon for war efforts and $4.5 billion for related work by the State Department in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. It also has sought $5.1 billion for FEMA and $2.8 billion for Haiti. These funds have been requested as emergency spending, which means they would not count against the annual cap on discretionary funding.
Inouye indicated that the supplemental would not include money for settlements of two longstanding lawsuits against the federal government. The administration requested more than $4 billion for these settlements, one stemming from alleged discrimination by the Agriculture Department against black farmers, and the other from claims of mismanagement of trust accounts for American Indians.
Democrats have been discussing how to advance this request, and they had considered the war funding bill a possible vehicle. Lawmakers said they are looking at ways to offset the cost of this request.
House leaders want to avoid multiple votes on the war bill because of changes that would likely be made to the legislation in the Senate if the House passed it first.
“We would certainly like to have them move the supplemental and send it over to us and then we’ll take it up,” Hoyer said. “We think that’s more predictive of what can be done in the Senate, and would save some time if the Senate goes first so we know we don’t have to go back and forth.”
Last week House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., said there are few questions about the war funding request but that lawmakers are looking at what else is needed, including whether the administration will seek funds to deal with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I don’t know how it plays out. I just want to know what people think they legitimately need, and then we’ll make a decision,” Obey said