splashing money around gop/dem style.

  1. 1,781 Posts.
    Looks like the Democrats want to splash a few dollars around as well. Wondered why the US couldn't have used a bit of their tech equipment to stop or minimise the roadside attacks,particularly remotely detonated devices. A couple of solutions to protect it's soldiers suggested in the budget. Like the prison's allocation if anyone deserves a few more good prisons it's the Iraqis.

    Lawmakers' Priorities Probably Will Push Bush Proposal Beyond $87 Billion

    By Jonathan Weisman
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, September 30, 2003

    Even as new questions surface about items in President Bush's war spending request, lawmakers say the measure's $87 billion price tag appears more likely to expand than shrink this week when lawmakers draft legislation to fund the war and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Republicans and Democrats alike are questioning some Iraq reconstruction provisions, such as a $100 million witness protection program, two $200 million prisons and a $9 million effort to automate the postal system and establish Zip codes. New details emerged yesterday on the Afghan side of the ledger, including $3 million to meet the government's payroll through June, $9 million for tax collection, $20 million to finance 200 election experts for six months, $10 million to build four industrial parks and 50 crop-and-livestock markets, $8 million for an Afghan Highway Patrol, and $30 million to protect President Hamid Karzai.

    Even so, the prominent changes that Congress may approve would expand the cost. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin drafting its version of the war spending bill today. House Appropriations Committee leaders hope their version will reach a final vote by mid-October.

    If Democrats demand some spending on their priorities as the price for their support, "they'll do it in a heartbeat," Daniel J. Mitchell, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said of the White House and GOP leadership.

    Those demands are lining up. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) will try to add $300 million on top of the president's $177 million request for additional heavily armored Humvees and $409 million to enlarge the Army by 10,000 troops. Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) is likely to seek $467 million to extend the Pentagon's health insurance program to activated National Guardsmen, reservists and their families.

    In the House, lawmakers hope to add money for bulletproof blankets that could protect Humvees in Iraq and for jamming equipment to block signals to the remote-controlled bombs that have bedeviled U.S. patrols.

    Democrats also want to see significantly more money added to Bush's $2.8 billion request for the repair and rehabilitation of military equipment badly worn down by extended combat in Iraq's desert terrain. Scott Lilly, Democratic staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, said committee Democrats also would like to see more money to train new bomb squads. "We've got artillery people over there disarming bombs that don't have a bit of training," he said.

    Today, Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) will unveil their "American Parity Amendment" -- backed by organized labor -- that would add $20 billion in domestic spending to mirror the infrastructure, health care and education spending Bush wants for Iraq.

    As the details of Bush's request emerge, Democrats -- and even some Republicans -- have begun publicly to question whether U.S. taxpayers have to be quite so generous. Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) appealed to GOP leaders to more thoroughly consider Bush's request, saying $87 billion "roughly equals, in current dollars, the total amount of money spent to rebuild the entire continent of Europe after World War II."

    "We're supposed to ask questions. We're not just supposed to say, 'okay, good, here's a, you know, a blank check,' " Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said on CNN Sunday.

    But by yesterday afternoon, Republicans were closing ranks around Bush. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said "some slight differences" may emerge. But, he said, "as far as I am concerned . . . we should go forward as the president has outlined." Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (Ind.) said barring funds for reconstruction would invite "chaos, an incubator for terrorism, a recycling of the same problems we saw coming out of Afghanistan 12 years ago."

    The most contentious efforts to change the Bush request are likely to fail, but Democrats hope to score some political points in defeat. Taking up a cause championed by conservative Republicans, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) will offer an amendment requiring that Iraqi reconstruction be financed through international lending, backed by Iraqi oil pledges.

    The idea, first proposed by conservative Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), is hotly opposed by the White House, and by the GOP leadership. "I think it's a terrible idea," said Mitch McConnell (Ky.), the Senate's second-ranking Republican. "It only confirms all the things the terrorists are saying, that we went in there to steal their oil."

    Senate Democrats will also try to finance the emergency spending by raising taxes on the richest 1 percent of Americans to the level paid before Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Republicans say the gambit has little chance of passing, but, they concede, it has put them on the defensive. "It's going to be a challenging week," McConnell said.

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