May 6th, 2008
06:45 PM ET
14 years ago

House unveils war funding bill with 'emergency' add-ons

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/06/thecapitol.jpg caption="House Democratic leaders unveiled new legislation Tuesday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defying President Bush's demand to send him a clean war funding bill, House Democratic leaders unveiled legislation Tuesday that conditions the money on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and adds billions of dollars in domestic spending.

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey, D-Wisconsin, outlined a $183.7 billion package that combines money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the remainder of 2008 with additional funding requested by the administration to continue military operations through early 2009.

Democrats insisted their bill stays roughly within the overall spending limit set by the White House, but they included two major domestic items - unemployment assistance and a new GI Bill that expands college benefits for veterans - that would cost about $12 billion. Obey argued the add-ons are emergency spending and therefore shouldn't be included in the overall price tag.

The bill would redirect over $3 billion of the president's request to pay for additional international food aid, levees in New Orleans and more resources for military childcare centers and hospitals.

Obey said that Democratic leaders turned down over 100 requests for other domestic programs, such as summer jobs and infrastructure projects, and that they limited spending to things they deemed true emergencies.

"There is not a single piece of pork, not a single member project," he said.

The Democrats' plan would place a number of restrictions on the administration, Obey told reporters. It would tie the war money to a requirement the Pentagon begin withdrawing U.S. troops, with the goal of
removing all combat forces by the end of December 2009, and it directs the Pentagon to give troops the same amount of rest time at home as they spend on combat assignments.

The bill would also require the United States to adhere to prisoner interrogation standards set out in the U.S. Army Field manual - which bans torture, including "water boarding." It would require all U.S. agreements with the government of Iraq to be submitted to Congress in the form of a treaty needing Senate ratification. The legislation would also force the Iraqi government to shoulder more of the costs for reconstruction projects. Half of the funds for these projects would be grants, the other half loans.

In order to move the bill quickly and avoid attempts to change it, Democratic leaders are bypassing the usual committee process. The plan is to hold three votes Thursday on the House floor - one on the war funding itself, one on the funding restrictions and one on the additional domestic spending. The entire package would then go to the Senate, but a senior Democratic leadership aide acknowledged it's unlikely the funding restrictions would pass.

By keeping the overall cost of the bill close to the president's limit, Democrats hope he will not veto it. The leadership aide argued the GI bill and money for unemployment benefits should pass the Senate, increasing pressure on the White House to accept the entire bill.

Obey said Democrats want to avoid a veto, but he asked, "How can you be for squirreling away $200 billion on this misbegotten, godforsaken war and not be for providing a GI bill expansion?"

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, denounced the bill.

"It is unacceptable and, indeed, unimaginable for Congress to continue to hold our troops hostage for political leverage," he said. "If House Democrats want to ramp up spending on other government programs, those items should be considered separately. A troop funding bill should fund the troops. Period."


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. J. Forbes, Texas Independent

    Democrats, please support our Troops.

    May 6, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. Jose Felix

    Bush, please support the will of the people. Bring the troops home.

    May 6, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  3. Ohio for Obama

    HOW is it not supporting the troops if you're EXPANDING THE GI BILL???...anyone??

    May 6, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  4. Daneil

    What's the purpose of having troops getting killed and spending money we don't have ,and its money we need here at home where are the good old days when gas was 1.20 a gallon ?

    May 6, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  5. Different Mike

    The Democrat's have a few billion in "Add-On's"... IM SHOCKED. First they destroy the price of gasoline and now they have "add-on's". One thing you have to love (kidding) about the Dems, they are predictable.

    May 6, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  6. ROCHELLE

    NOT AGAIN! BUSH 4 GET ABOUT IT! YOU HAVE ALMOST DESTROYED AMERICA WITH YOUR SCARE TACTICS WITH MCCAIN AND THE CLINTONS IN TOW! GET OVER YOURSELF. YOU'VE SPENT ENOUGH OF OUR MONEY AND BORROWED SO MUCH THAT WE ARE IN A RECESSION. YOU ARE BLEEDING AMERICA.

    STOP IT!

    May 6, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. REPUB OF LA.

    CONGRESS USELESS-SENATE USELESS-FAIR TAX CURES ALL!!

    May 6, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  8. REPUB OF LA.

    GROW UP PEOPLE YOU ARE VERY WEAK, YOU HAVE TO FIGHT FOR YOUR FREEDOM!! DO YOU HAVE GRANDKIDS? GREAT GRANDKIDS?? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEAVE THEM ?? WEAKNESS??? GREAT PEOPLE GAVE YOU WHAT YOU HAVE TODAY (FREEDOM!!)

    May 6, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  9. V. Morgan-Lee

    The reporters should refer to Barack Obama as Senator Obama; after all no one is referring to Clinton as Hillary Clinton. Give Senator Obama his due as you are doing for Senator Clinton. Check the language used in naming each candidate.

    May 6, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |