January 16th, 2009
01:20 PM ET
12 years ago

Blue Dogs lobby Obama on Iraq, Afghanistan budgets

(CNN) - Fiscal conservative Democrats in the House are already lobbying President-elect Obama to stop the practice of using emergency supplemental bills to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to start including costs in annual budget.

(A letter from the congressional Blue Dog coalition sent to the president-elect yesterday after the jump)

January 15, 2009

President-Elect Barack Obama

Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President-Elect:

Congratulations on your historic election. As members of the Blue Dog Coalition, we applaud your commitment to restoring fiscal responsibility to the federal budget and look forward to working with you in this effort.

In our view, a crucial first step must be to end the practice of funding US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through emergency supplemental legislation, rather than through the normal appropriations process. Supplemental appropriations procedures allow Congress to expedite funding for responses to unforeseen emergencies, such as natural disasters or the initial stages of armed conflicts. Emergency designations have historically been short-lived. Only the first two years of the Vietnam War and the first year of the Korean War were funded through emergency procedures.

The Bush Administration has stretched the definition of “emergency” far beyond its historical precedent. After more than five years in Iraq and seven years in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense is capable of predicting costs stemming from those conflicts with considerable accuracy. Yet the President has persisted in requesting war funding almost exclusively through emergency requests, often only as previous funding was on the verge of running out.

The emergency designation and last-minute timing gave Congress little alternative but to place these requests on a legislative fast-track. The resulting timetable severely limited our ability to conduct effective oversight. And this repeated use of emergency supplemental legislation has obscured the impact of war funding on the budget deficit and national debt.

In January 2007, the Coalition introduced H.Res. 97 – “Providing for Operation Iraqi Freedom Cost Accountability” – a measure that, among other things, called for funding the war in Iraq through the normal appropriations process. Leaders from across the political spectrum have since joined our calls to end this practice. Among them is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who in January of 2008 called for the use of supplementals to be “dramatically reduced” and to move war funding into “the base budget as rapidly as we can.”

We respectfully urge you to include funds to cover expected costs for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan within your fiscal year 2010 budget request for the Department of Defense. This would be an essential step toward restoring honesty, transparency, and accountability to federal spending.

The Blue Dog Coalition stands ready to help. We share your concerns about the calamitous fiscal position that eight years of irresponsibility have helped create, and we look forward to working with you to minimize the debts that we leave to our children and grandchildren.


Rep. Jane Harman

Rep. Loretta Sanchez

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

Rep. Heath Shuler

Rep. Adam Schiff

Rep. Leonard Boswell

Rep. Dan Boren

Rep. Jim Marshall

Rep. Jim Cooper

Rep. Baron Hill

Rep. Charlie Melancon

Rep. Baron Hill

Rep. David Scott

Rep. Mike Michaud

Rep. Brad Ellsworth

Rep. Mike Ross

Rep. Walt Minnick

Rep. Michael Arcuri

Rep. Charlie Wilson

Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand

Rep. Joe Baca

Rep. Sanford Bishop

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Rep. John Tanner

Rep. Jim Costa

Rep. Jim Matheson

Rep. Dennis Cardoza

Rep. Henry Cuellar

Rep. Allen Boyd

Rep. Marion Berry

Rep. John Barrow

Rep. Frank Kratovil

Rep. Patrick Murphy

Rep. Lincoln Davis

Rep. Travis Childers

Rep. Parker Griffith

Filed under: President-elect Obama
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. gt

    Mike Ross for speaker of the house ,,,,he has Americas interest not just his party.....blue dogs are the real deal

    January 16, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. Mick in Mesa

    While most of the time I view the Blue Dogs as nothing more than plantation dems in this instance they are correct. Americans need to know how much of our country's monetary treasure is being flushed down the drain in Bush's illegal war...

    January 16, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  3. hell, we need all the boold money we can get our hands on!

    our entire tribe are employees of war industry, and

    we need more wars, not less,

    to preserve our lifestyle,

    which is not negotiable,

    as shrub famously said.

    January 16, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Dont blame me

    To Mick in Mesa

    Remember, congress VOTED for the war, almost unanimously, so it is not illegal.

    If Clinton hadn't gutted the intelligence agencies, maybe we would have had sufficient data to stear us away from war. But even Bill Clinton stated that Iraq had WMD's.

    If you don't believe me, then do some research.

    January 16, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Tina, NC

    I echo what Mick in Mesa said.

    I don't normally agree with my Rep., Shuler, either but on this one he and the others have it right.

    January 16, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. Allen Hussein

    With every Republican President since Reagan running up deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars, with a lot of cheerleading from the Republican congressional delegation, the Blue Dog Democrats are the last true fiscal conservatives standing.

    January 16, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. S. Callahan

    I fully agree with the Blue Dogs and Mick's comment.

    January 16, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Ravi in MO

    Blue Dogs = Common sense

    January 16, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. carol

    Money wasted all around on both wars, just bring all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan....both useless wars and wasted lives on both fronts.

    January 16, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  10. John, Brooklyn, New York

    As a liberal New Yorker, I often equate "fiscal conservatism" with "mean spirited stinginess". However, I have to admit that in this situation I find myself aligned with the Blue Dogs.

    The American people have been demanding greater transparency from the government in its conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for years – without much response from the Bish Administration. Finanacial accountability is a great way to start and I applaud whoever is willing to expend some political clout to make it happen.

    January 16, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Alex

    I think that Fiscal Conservative Democrats will have a lot of pull with Obama...Fiscally conservative democrats are the new majority thanks to this election. By the time President Obama leaves office he will be considered a Blue Dog or he will be leaving earlier than we expect.

    January 16, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Baze

    Very, very interesting... This could be a good alliance for Obama for reeling in dissident Democrats, and put pressure on the G.O.P. to either adhere to being a fiscal conservative, or call yourself something else.

    January 16, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Thomas

    All these years... all these billions of dollars and somehow bush managed to always use the "emergency" venues instead of the normal budget venues for his war. Almost six years since we invaded the nation of Iraq and we still need to get "emergency" funding?

    Slick georgie, very slick.

    January 16, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    I couldn't agree more..........................but it wasn't just Blue Dogs........there were some Progressives that signed it as well!

    Once it's all there in black and white we will be able to see how outrageously high our defense budget is, and rein it in!!!


    A Progressive fiscal realist can dream

    January 16, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. jb

    Don't blam me,

    That "gutted" intel, did provide Bush with a memo stating to the effect that Bin Ladin was set to attack the US using air lines. Perhaps if GWB would have read and acted on that warning, the distraction that is known as the Iraq war wouldn't have happened.

    January 16, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. Maggie SC

    it seems to me that blue dogs are those who like to sit on the sidelines and watch while the RED Dogs do all the work of protecting our country safe from rebels and terriorists. get a mission to help instead of adding chains, ble dogs!!

    January 16, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  17. Matt

    Pretty good mvoe actually. Obama would do well to pay close attention to the blue dogs over the next couple years during this economic crisis.

    January 16, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  18. Simmy

    Will you please give him a chance to go to the Oval Office? My goodness – Congress gone wild!!!!!!!!!!

    January 16, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  19. Juge

    This time the BLUE DOGS are RIGHT ON!

    January 16, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. 800 and Counting

    "Commitment to restoring fiscal responsibility to the federal budget"???

    Is that with or without the $800B?

    January 16, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. FreeNLovIt

    But to dream about it, is a start. So glad you guys are coming out ..

    January 16, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. AnaB

    @ Simmy "My goodness – Congress gone wild!!!!!!!!!!"

    Now that's a video I don't want to see!

    January 16, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. jaye

    The wars need to end.

    January 16, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |