War Bill Larded with Unrelated Projects
The Senate defied a presidential veto threat and voted 77-22 to add several unrelated measures to the funding bill for Afghanistan and Iraq.
Senate Republicans have broken with President Bush to help Democrats add support for veterans and the unemployed to a bill paying for another year of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The 75-22 vote also added billions of dollars in other domestic funds such as heating subsidies for the poor and money for fighting wildfires to funding for military operations overseas.
Shortly afterward, the Senate voted 70-26 to approve $165 billion to pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into next spring, when Bush’s successor will set war policy. All told, the measure contains $212 billion over the coming two years, plus about $50 billion more through 2017 for veterans education benefits.
The vote on the domestic add-ons was a rebuke to Bush, who has promised to veto the measure if it contains the domestic measures. However, the president still has enough GOP support in the House to sustain a veto.
In an ideal world, Congress would pass “clean” bills devoted to a single issue. Then again, we’d fund ongoing long wars in the regular budget rather than with a never-ending stream of “emergency” supplementals.
Given the unpopularity of the Iraq War and President Bush, plenty of lawmakers likely decided that the only way they could vote to fund the war was to tie it to more popular measures. And, frankly, it’s hard to argue that we can afford billions to rebuild Iraq but not relief for domestic victims of wildfires or those unable to pay skyrocketing fuel bills. (It’s much easier to make the case that the former is a federal responsibility and the latter is not but that’s a hard sell in an election year.)