More Funding for the War
March 26, 2007
Last week the House passed an emergency supplemental spending bill that was the worst of all worlds. The presidentís request would have already set a spending record, but the Democratic leadership packed 21 billion additional dollars of mostly pork barrel spending in attempt to win Democrat votes. The total burden on the American taxpayer for this bill alone will be an astonishing 124 billion dollars. Democrats promised to oppose the war by adding more money to fight the war than even the president requested.
I am pleased to have joined with
the majority of my Republican colleagues to oppose this bill.
Among the pork added to attract
votes was more than 200 million dollars to the dairy industry, 74 million for
peanut farmers, and 25 million dollars for spinach farmers. Also, the bill
included more than two billion dollars in unconstitutional foreign aid,
including half a billion dollars for Lebanon and Eastern Europe.
What might be most disturbing,
however, is the treatment of veterans in the bill. Playing politics with the
funding of critical veterans medical and other assistance by adding it onto a
controversial bill to attract votes strikes me as highly inappropriate.
Veteransí funding should be included in a properly structured, comprehensive
appropriations bill. Better still, veterans spending should be automatically
funded and not subject to yearly politicking and nit-picking.
While I have been opposed to the
war in Iraq from the beginning and do believe that there is a strong
constitutional role for Congress when it comes to war, I could not support what
appeared to be micro-management of the war in this bill. There is a distinction
between the legitimate oversight role of Congress and attempts to meddle in the
details of how the war is to be fought. The withdrawal and readiness benchmarks
in this bill are in my view inappropriate. That is why the president has
threatened to veto this bill.
In the last Congress I
co-sponsored legislation urging the president to come up with a plan to conclude
our military activity in Iraq, but that legislation contained no date-specific
deadlines to complete withdrawal.
Once again Congress wants to have
it both ways. Back in 2002, Congress passed the authorization for the president
to attack Iraq if and when he saw fit. By ignoring the Constitution, which
clearly requires a declaration of war, Congress could wash its hands of
responsibility after the war began going badly by citing the ambiguity of its
authorization. This time, House leaders want to appear to be opposing the war by
including problematic benchmarks, but they include language to allow the
president to waive these if he sees fit.
To top it off, House leadership may have actually made war with Iran more likely. The bill originally contained language making it clear that the president would need congressional authorization before attacking Iran Ė as the Constitution requires. But this language was dropped after special interests demanded its removal. This move can reasonably be interpreted as de facto congressional authority for an attack on Iran. Letís hope that does not happen.