Senate Committee approves FY2010 war costs supplemental; Congress could pass bill before Memorial Day

/, Defense Financial Highlights, DoD on the Hill, News/Senate Committee approves FY2010 war costs supplemental; Congress could pass bill before Memorial Day

Senate Committee approves FY2010 war costs supplemental; Congress could pass bill before Memorial Day

The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved the FY2010 war cost supplemental appropriations bill late last week.  The SAC bill provides $33.4 billion for DoD costs related to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  This includes support for additional troops the president requested for Afghanistan and about $4 billion to train and equip Afghan and Iraqi Security Forces.  DoD funding also includes almost $5 billion in procurement for two Army helicopters and one Navy helicopter lost in combat, additional protection for helicopters operating in Afghanistan, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) jamming and detection devices, and other Army and Marine Corps equipment needs.  The SAC bill funds about $4 billion in foreign aid, primarily for Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq (the administration had requested $4.5 billion).  In non war-related costs, the SAC approved $5.1 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster relief and $2.5 billion for Haiti relief.  The full Senate expects to take up the bill next week where some Senators are hoping to include (via amendment) funding for education and border security  Over in the House, Democrat leaders (in a break with the normal course of action on appropriations bills) wanted the Senate to act first because of their concern about a growing criticism in their ranks of continuing war spending.  By having the Senate pass the bill first and sending it the House for action, the House could avoid a markup and floor debate on a House-originated bill.  Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said last week he hoped that with this process, Congress could complete action on the FY2010 supplemental before the Memorial Day recess.  However, there is another issue that is likely to cause some disagreement between the House and the Senate:  whether or not to include earmarks in the bill.  House Democrats have initiated a permanent ban on earmarks for for-profit institutions while Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) announced earlier that House Republicans were foregoing all earmarks.  Not so in the Senate, where there is no formal agreement to drop earmarks.  And, there are also indications that some House Democrats are not willing to abide by their leaders' anti-earmark policy.  This will be the first opportunity for Congress to rationalize differences on the treatment of earmarks in appropriations bills this year.

About the Author: