Tuesday, May 27, 2008

National Security Legislative Wrap-Up

Congress took action on a number of national security bills before heading out for the Memorial Day recess.

Last week, the Senate completed action on the Supplemental Appropriations Bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As in the House, the bill was divided into three parts. The Senate approved funding for the war, rejected Iraq-related provisions and added, with a veto-proof majority, the G.I. bill and a number of domestic funding provisions.

The House of Representatives last week completed action on the Fiscal Year 2009 Defense Authorization Bill, rejecting funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, rejecting amendments to increase and to decrease missile defense spending and adding a provision requiring congressional approval of any long term security arrangement with Iraq.


On May 22, the full Senate completed action on the bill. The Senate approved $169 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by a vote of 70 – 26. The 26 votes against the bill were a significant increase from the 14 votes against a similar bill last year. The Senate rejected a second amendment with a number of Iraq-war related provisions by a vote of 34 – 63, with both Republicans and anti-war Democrats voting “no.” In a surprise, the Senate approved a package that included the G.I. bill and domestic provisions by a lopsided vote of 75 -22. That amendment included an extension of unemployment benefits, a delay of Medicaid rule changes proposed by the Bush Administration, $10.4 billion for hurricane and disaster relief ! and $1 billion for low-income home heating assistance.

The Supplemental bill now moves back to the House for approval, rejection or modification of the Senate-passed measure, likely early in June, before going to the President for signature or a veto.


On May 22, the full House approved the bill by a vote of 384 – 23. Several of the key recorded national security votes were:

  • Franks (R-AZ) amendment to add $719 million for missile defense, the amount cut by the committee, failed 186 – 229.
  • Tierney (D-MA) amendment to transfer $966 million from missile defense to other programs failed 111 – 292.
  • Pearce (R-NM) amendment to add $10 million for the Reliable Replacement Warhead failed 145 – 271.
  • Lee (D-CA) amendment to require any long-term agreement between the U.S. and Iraq to receive congressional approval was adopted 234 – 183.
  • Braley (D-IA) amendment requiring a report on the long-term costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was adopted 245 – 168.
  • Price (D-NC) amendment barring contractors from being used in interrogations was adopted 240 – 168.
  • Holt (D-NJ) amendment requiring videotaping or electronic recording of detainee interrogations was adopted 218 – 192.

The full Senate is likely to consider the bill in June.


A House-Senate conference to resolve differences between the two versions of the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution was concluded before the Memorial Day recess, but delayed final approval until after the Memorial Day recess. The conferees agreed on a $3 trillion budget that is about $20 billion above President Bush's request. If the budget resolution is approved, it will be the first time since 2000.

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