Monday, May 5, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-up

Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee completed its mark up of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Defense Authorization bill. The marked up bill fully funds the administration’s $612.5 billion FY2009 national defense request, as did the FY2009 Budget Resolution passed by the Senate on March 13, by authorizing $542.5 billion in "base" budgetary authority and $70 billion in war funding.

Bush sent to Congress last week specifics of the $70 billion "bridge" war funding request for Fiscal Year 2009. If Congress bundles residual FY2008 funding with this advance FY2009 funding, the resulting "super supplemental" could reach $178 billion, or more.

There is still no definitive plan of attack on the residual Fiscal Year 2008 Supplemental Appropriations bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Last year, Congress approved $86 billion in FY2008 war funding. The timing, composition and procedures for the remaining funding, which President Bush has threatened to veto if over $108 billion, are still up in the air.

The supplemental may be considered in three separate parts: war funding of around $170 billion, language calling on the administration to begin bringing troops home, and a domestic spending component that could include extended unemployment benefits, energy tax credits and a new GI bill for veterans’ education.

The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to complete subcommittee mark-ups on its version of the FY2009 Defense Authorization bill this week. The full committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on May 14, with floor consideration expected the week of May 19.

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