Last week the House passed an emergency supplemental
spending bill that was the worst of all worlds. The president's request would
have already set a spending record, but the Democratic leadership packed 21
billion additional dollars of mostly pork-barrel spending in an attempt to win
Democrat votes. The total burden on the American taxpayer for this bill alone
will be an astonishing $124 billion . 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 to the dairy
industry, $74 million for peanut farmers, and $25 million for spinach farmers.
Also, the bill included more than $2 billion 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. Veterans' 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 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. Let's hope that does not happen.