U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007

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Following President Bush’s veto of the initial supplemental bill, House Democrats settled on a plan (H.R.2206), endorsed by House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.), which would provide $42.8 billion for the Iraq War without any withdrawal timetables or domestic funding. The funding would provide “immediate funding needs” to the U.S. military, including defense-wide healthcare needs, research and development. The bill would keep operations in Iraq going through July. Congress would then decide shortly before its August recess whether to release an additional $52.8 billion of war spending to last through September. [1][2][3][4]

Ultimately, the bill passed in the House. In conference, however, the House and Senate agreed to drop the short-term funding provisions and consider a supplemental appropriations measure with no strings attached. The bill ultimately passed in both the House and Senate and was signed by President Bush.

Main article: Congressional actions to end the Iraq War in the 110th Congress

Original short-term funding bill

In addition to the short-term funding provisions, the bill also contained most of the additional domestic funding from H.R.1591, including child health spending for state programs, Katrina disaster relief, flu fighting, and a minimum wage increase accompanied by small business tax relief.[5]

Main article: U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007 (H.R.1591)

In addition, the bill would prohibit the closing of Walter Reed hospital in Washington, D.C.[6]

<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="H.R.2206" />

Opposition

The short-term option was immediately criticized by many. Republican Conference Chair Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) called the legislation “an irresponsible approach." In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also voiced strong opposition. Initially, a spokesperson for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, “It's not anything that will fly in the Senate.” Later, however, when it became clear the measure would be considered by the House, the same aide stated “It is something that Senator Reid intends to take a look at.”[7][8] The Bush administration, via Press Secretary Tony Snow, opposed the idea, calling it “a kind of a start-and-stop measure.” [9]

House Republicans express concerns to President Bush

During the week in which the short-term funding bill was discussed, several moderate House Republicans warned President Bush that his pursuit of the war in Iraq was risking the future of the Republican Party, and that he could not count on Republican support for much longer. The meeting was organized by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), and was attended by members such as Tom Davis (R-Va.), Michael Castle (R-Del.), Todd Platts (R-Pa.), Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.). Despite their concerns, each of the members promised to oppose the short-term funding measure in the House.[10]

House consideration

The House planned to consider the bill on Thursday, May 10. Earlier in the day, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed to also hold a vote on an alternative measure (H.R.2237), sponsored by Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), which would mandate that U.S. combat troop withdrawal begin within three months, and that it be completed six months after that. Then, the bill mandated, no congressional money could be used for military operations (though there would be an allowance for certain types of special-ops activities).[11] The alternative measure failed by a vote of 171-255 on May 10, 2007. Just two Republicans, Reps. Jimmy Duncan (Tenn.) and Ron Paul (Texas), voted for the measure. [12][13]

<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="H.R.2237" />

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="house" rollcall="330" />

On May 10, 2007, the House passed the short-term funding bill (H.R.2206) with a vote of 221-205. Two Republicans, Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.) and Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), voted for the bill.[14]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="house" rollcall="333" />

Original domestic spending measures considered independently

<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="H.R.2207" />

On May 10, the House also considered a separate appropriations bill (H.R.2207) which included some of the domestic spending provisions originally included in the larger supplemental bill vetoed by President Bush. The bill included the following:

  • Agriculture aid to fight insects, crop diseases or delayed planting due to weather (mostly in areas stricken by disaster).
  • Funds for emergency conservation due to a disaster and for losses to dairy farmers in disaster counties.
  • $20 million worth of emergency grants to assist low-income migrant and seasonal farm workers.
  • $100 million for both wildfire suppression and rural schools. The Department of Agriculture would receive $400 million for emergency wildfire suppression if the first $100 million was used up. $60 million would go to NOAA for research and operations.[15]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="house" rollcall="336" />

Senate consideration

On May 17, 2007, the Senate considered H.R.2206 with a replacement amendment. The amendment declared that it was the sense of the Senate that:

  • The President and Congress should not take any action that will endanger the Armed Forces of the United States, and will provide necessary funds for training, equipment, and other support for troops in the field, as such actions will ensure their safety and effectiveness in preparing for and carrying out their assigned missions.
  • The President, Congress, and the Nation have an obligation to ensure that those who have bravely served this country in time of war receive the medical care and other support they deserve; and
  • The President and Congress should continue to exercise their constitutional responsibilities to ensure that the Armed Forces have everything they need to perform their assigned or future missions; and review, assess, and adjust United States policy and funding as needed to ensure our troops have the best chance for success in Iraq and elsewhere.[16][17]

The bill, with the above text, passed in a voice vote. Passage of the measure (despite the drastically different language from the House) allowed it to move to the conference committee phase.

Conference committee

In conference, the House and Senate agreed to drop the original short-term funding provisions and consider a bill which provided President Bush with his requested funds without strings attached.

House

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) added, however, that the House bill would feature benchmarks with consequences, such as restricting reconstruction aid to Iraq if it could not meet certain goals. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) stated "And then, as I've indicated, the defense authorization, we're going to start right where we've left off with this bill, continuing our push to change direction in the war in Iraq."[18]

When asked about the Bush administration's position on the bill, White House spokesman Tony Snow stated "I don't want to say yes or no to any of these things. I'm just going to say, 'No comment.' A senior administration official added, "It is premature to say that the White House has agreed to any provisions of the Iraq funding bill.[19]"

Main article: U.S. minimum wage legislation

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) immediately criticized the decision to pull withdrawal timetables out of the bill. He stated:

"Under the President’s Iraq policies, our military has been over-burdened, our national security has been jeopardized, and thousands of Americans have been killed or injured. Despite these realities, and the support of a majority of Americans for ending the President’s open-ended mission in Iraq, congressional leaders now propose a supplemental appropriations bill that does nothing to end this disastrous war. I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history. There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq."[20]

In the House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), also a fervent opponent of the war, stated, “The anti-war Democrats have reached their tipping point...It’s going to take Republican votes to pass it.”[21]

On May 24, 2007, the House considered two bills. The first would raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour from $5.15 per hour.[22] In addition, it would provide some small business tax breaks and Gulf disaster relief, increase children's healthcare funding, increase veterans and Homeland Security funding, and provide additional agricultural aid.[23][24] Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also added a provision that would stop the Bush administration from cutting Medicaid payments to hospitals for one year.[25] This measure passed overwhelmingly, 348-73.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="house" rollcall="424" />

The second bill would provide funds for the Iraq War through September 2007. This bill passed, 280-142, with most Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), opposing it.[26]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="house" rollcall="425" />

Senate

In the Senate, the two above bills were considered as one joint bill. It passed, 80-14.

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="181" />

President Bush signs bill

On May 25, 2007, President Bush signed the bill.[27]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

Sources

  1. Patrick O'Connor, "Republicans reject partial war-funding bill," Politico, May 7, 2007.
  2. Dana Chasin, “House to Vote on Short-Term Iraq Financing,” OMB Watch, May 8, 2007.
  3. "House expected to OK limited Iraq war funding," MSNBC, May, 10, 2007.
  4. Robert McElroy, "U.S. & the World," TheWeekInCongress, May 11, 2007.
  5. Robert McElroy, "U.S. & the World," TheWeekInCongress, May 11, 2007.
  6. Robert McElroy, "U.S. & the World," TheWeekInCongress, May 11, 2007.
  7. Patrick O'Connor, "Republicans reject partial war-funding bill," Politico, May 7, 2007.
  8. Dana Chasin, “House to Vote on Short-Term Iraq Financing,” OMB Watch, May 8, 2007.
  9. Dana Chasin, “House to Vote on Short-Term Iraq Financing,” OMB Watch, May 8, 2007.
  10. Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman, “Bush Told War Is Harming The GOP,” Washington Post, May 9, 2007.
  11. Greg Sargent, “Breaking: House To Schedule Straight Up-Or-Down Vote On Withdrawal Today,” Talking Points Memo, May 10, 2007.
  12. "H.R.2237: Thomas page on H.R.2237"
  13. Robert McElroy, "U.S. & the World," TheWeekInCongress, May 11, 2007.
  14. "H.R.2206: Thomas page on H.R.2206"
  15. Robert McElroy, "U.S. & the World," TheWeekInCongress, May 11, 2007.
  16. Robert McElroy, "U.S. & the World," TheWeekInCongress, May 17, 2007.
  17. THOMAS page on the bill (H.R.2206)
  18. "Dems plan Iraq bill minus timeline but with benchmarks," CNN.com, May 22, 2007.
  19. "Dems plan Iraq bill minus timeline but with benchmarks," CNN.com, May 22, 2007.
  20. Greg Sargent, "Feingold: I Won't Support "Toothless" Bill," TPM Cafe, May 22, 2007.
  21. Mike Soraghan, "Defections now likely on Iraq bill," The Hill, May 23, 2007.
  22. "Dems plan Iraq bill minus timeline but with benchmarks," CNN.com, May 22, 2007.
  23. Robert McElroy, "U.S. & the World," TheWeekInCongress, May 25, 2007.
  24. Mike Soraghan, “Congress passes Iraq bill as lawmakers eye September for next major fight,” The Hill, May 24, 2007.
  25. Jonathan E. Kaplan "Emanuel, Durbin stop Medicaid cuts,"The Hill, May 30, 2007.
  26. Mike Soraghan, “Congress passes Iraq bill as lawmakers eye September for next major fight,” The Hill, May 24, 2007.
  27. Anne Flaherty, "Bush Signs Iraq Spending Bill," San Francisco Chronicle, May 25, 2007.

External resources

External articles