Tuesday, November 13, 2007

National Security Legislative Wrap-up, November 5-9 2007

With one week to go before a two-week break for Thanksgiving, Congress is working on completing a significant amount of legislation. Last week, both houses of Congress approved the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill. This week, both houses may consider a completed Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization Bill. In addition, a bill may come up to appropriate $50 billion to pay for several months of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last week, House leaders released a draft version of the bill, which is described below.


On November 8, Congress approved the $459.4 billion Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Appropriations bill. The House vote was 400 -15; the Senate approved the measure by voice vote. The bill is $3.5 billion below the Administration's request but $39.7 billion above last year, a 9.5% increase (excluding about $190 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). The conferees cut the $30 million requested for the Reliable Replacement Warhead to $15 million (there is additional money in the Department of Energy Appropriations Bill), cut out $85 million of the $310 million for European missile defense, including all construction money, and approved $8.7 billion for missile defense, $185 million less than requested.

The bill also contained a Continuing Resolution to keep government programs going until the appropriations bills are completed, with the new expiration date of December 14.

The Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization bill is being considered by a House-Senate conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills. The conference report is expected to be completed and approved this week.

About a quarter of the Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations bill to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- which now totals about $190 billion -- is likely to be considered this week. The bill is being called a "bridge" or temporary funding until the full amount can be considered next year. The measure requires some U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin 30 days after the bill is enacted, and sets a goal -- but not a requirement -- for most troops to be brought home by December 15, 2008. It requires more time at home between rotations in Iraq and bans waterboarding and other torture techniques and prohibits the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq.

The Fiscal Year 2008 Energy and Water Appropriations bill has passed the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee but may never get to the Senate floor, going instead directly to a House-Senate conference as part of a larger package of bills.

The Fiscal Year 2008 State, Foreign Appropriations bill is being considered by a House-Senate conference committee to work out the differences between the two bills.

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