Tuesday, April 22, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-Up

Confusion reigns over the remainder of the Fiscal Year 2008 Supplemental Appropriations Bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year, Congress approved a first portion of funding: $86 billion. The timing, the composition and the procedures for the new bill are all up in the air.

Some major questions about the bill:

- While the new supplemental was supposed to be about $108 billion, will Congress add another $70 billion to fund the wars into Fiscal Year 2009 in order to avoid new votes on war funding in the fall just before the election and early next year while the President is setting up the new Administration?

- Will the bill include many non-defense add-ons? As this bill is one of the few expected to be enacted into law during calendar 2008, there are hopes to attach an economic stimulus package, as well as funding for shortfalls in 2010 census funding shortfall, fighting wildfires, Head Start and creating a summer jobs program.

- Will the bill move directly to the House or Senate floors for consideration or will the Appropriations Committees take up the bill first?

- Will the bill include provisions setting a deadline for bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq, mandates for training and equipping troops, longer rest time between deployments, blocking a long-term commitment to the Iraqi government, requiring U.S. reconstruction assistance to be designated as loans to Iraq and increasing education benefits for veterans?

- Will the measure be considered as one bill or be split into two or three parts so anti-war Members of Congress can vote for provisions they like while opposing funding for the war in Iraq.

Stay tuned.

No comments: