Monday, November 19, 2007

National Security Legislative Wrap-up, November 13-16 2007

Congress is out of town for two weeks until December 4th. Before leaving town for the Thanksgiving recess, both houses of Congress considered legislation to continue funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with restrictions. The House voted 218 - 203 to approve $50 billion for the wars while establishing a timetable for the withdrawal of most American troops from Iraq, prompting a veto threat from President Bush. The Senate voted 53 - 45 to bring up the same legislation, but 60 votes were required and the bill died. The conferees did not reach final agreement on the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization bill.


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. While it had been expected that the conference negotiations would be completed last week, the measure reportedly has been held up by the hate crimes legislation approved in the Senate.

About a quarter of the Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations bill to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- which now totals about $196 billion -- was considered last week. The bill was called a "bridge," in that it would provide temporary funding for current operations until the full amount can be considered next year. The measure would have required some U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin 30 days after the bill is enacted, and it set a goal -- but not a requirement -- that most troops to be brought home by December 15, 2008. In addition to these measures, the bill required more time at home between tours of duty in Iraq, banned waterboarding and other torture techniques and prohibited the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq.

The House approved the bill by a 218 - 203 vote. The Senate refused to bring up the bill; it voted 53 - 45 in favor of beginning debate, but 60 votes were required and the bill died. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to bring up a $70 billion bill to pay for the wars that had no restrictions, but his measure died 45 - 53. Both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pledged not to approve new war funding without any restrictions. The Senate may consider a less restrictive version at that point in December, but the House may wait until 2008.

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.

No comments: