Monday, May 12, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-up

Postponement is the name of the game. The House had planned to consider the Supplemental Appropriations bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but postponed consideration until this week. The Senate Appropriations Committee was scheduled to consider the same bill last week, but delayed the mark-up to a new tentative date of May 15. The Senate had tentatively planned to consider the Fiscal Year Defense Authorization bill before the Memorial Day recess, but that consideration has apparently been put off until June. The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to complete its mark-up on its version of the FY2009 Defense Authorization bill on May 14, with floor consideration expected the week of May 19.


The draft House Supplemental Appropriations bill uses the never-enacted fiscal year 2008 Military Construction-Veterans Administration Appropriations bill (HR 2642) as a vehicle or shell. House Democrats plan to offer the following three amendments:

Amendment 1:

  • $162.6 billion to continue funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan well into 2009.
Amendment 2:
  • A requirement to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 30 days of passage, with a goal of having all troops out of Iraq by December 31, 2009 (except those providing embassy security).
  • A mandate that any unit deployed to Iraq must meet Pentagon requirements that it be "fully mission capable."
  • A ban on permanent bases.
  • An anti-torture provision that requires the CIA to comply with interrogation techniques in the Army Field Manual.
  • A prohibition on using U.S. aid to rebuild towns or equip security forces in Iraq unless Baghdad matches every dollar spent. This is the functional equivalent of a 50 percent loan for Iraq reconstruction funding and ensures that the Iraqis provide funding up front.
  • Prohibit extending the deployment in Iraq of U.S. forces beyond deployment time periods established in Pentagon policy.
  • Prohibits the deployment to Iraq of U.S. forces that have not spent sufficient time between deployments "dwell time" at home station.
  • Prohibit any agreement with the Government of Iraq committing the United States to deploy its forces in defense of Iraq or concerning the number or mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that is not in the form of a treaty subject to Senate ratification or otherwise specifically authorized by Congress.
  • Prohibit any agreement with the Government of Iraq that would subject U.S. military personnel to the jurisdiction of Iraqi criminal courts or punishment under Iraqi law.
  • Require that the President complete an agreement with Iraq so that United States Armed Forces operating in Iraq pay no more for fuel than the discounted price at which the Government of Iraq is providing fuel for domestic Iraqi consumption. --Extend the statute of limitations on criminal and civil statutes in cases involving fraud during wartime including in Iraq and Afghanistan from 3 years to 5 years.
  • Amend the federal criminal code to prohibit profiteering and fraud involving a contract or the provision of goods or services in connection with a mission of the U.S. Government overseas. (This provision is identical to H.R. 400 which passed the House last year 375-3.)
  • Expand the jurisdiction of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act - which only extends U.S. federal criminal jurisdiction to felony crimes committed overseas by contractors working for the Defense Department - to include contractors working for any US government agency.
Amendment 3:
  • $1.2 billion for global food aid.
  • $5.8 billion to repair levees in Louisiana.
  • An additional $11 billion over 10 years for unemployment compensation.
  • An expansion of education benefits for returning troops.
  • Fully offset provision blocking seven Administration Medicaid regulations that will increase the cost of health care. (This provision is identical to H.R. 5613 which passed the House two weeks ago 349-62.)
  • The President's requested funding level for State Department, USAID, and Justice Department operations and programs overseas.
  • Increased funding over the President's request to fully fund military quality of life initiatives, such as BRAC requirements, military child care centers, and military hospital construction. (These items total around $2.2 billion).
  • Sufficient funding to address urgent programmatic shortfalls acknowledged by the Administration, including increased costs for the Bureau of Prisons, due to increasing incarceration costs and growing inmate population, and decennial census cost overruns. While the House expects to act this week, the Senate schedule remains unclear.


The House Armed Services Committee has completed its subcommittee mark-ups and the full committee mark-up is scheduled for May 14. Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) anticipates the bill will be on the House floor the week of May 19.

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