Appropriations panel chairman releases $75B supplemental draft
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., unveiled Wednesday the final draft of the emergency war supplemental that the House is expected to consider this week, comprising the $59 billion Senate-passed package as well as $16 billion, including $10 billion to preserve teachers' jobs, that Democrats intend to attach as an amendment.
The package would provide $45.5 billion in discretionary funding, with $37.12 billion slated for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. That sum was also included in the Senate package.
The legislation also provides $5.1 billion for FEMA disaster relief; $2.9 billion for Haiti; $162 million for the Gulf Coast oil spill; and more than $600 million for other domestic needs in discretionary appropriations. Additionally, the bill includes $13 billion in mandatory funding for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange, as requested by President Obama. All of those provisions were part of the Senate measure.
Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said House Democrats expect to win enough votes to pass the supplemental.
House Democratic leaders are considering holding two separate votes that would allow anti-war Democrats to oppose the war spending while voting for the domestic initiatives.
Asked whether he had the votes for the domestic part of the package, Hoyer said "I think we do."
But House Democratic leaders would need Republicans to vote for the war-funding part. House Republicans have not indicated how they would vote, but many have urged Democrats to take up a war bill without extraneous domestic funding.
A version of the bill circulated late Tuesday afternoon indicated that the Agent Orange funding would be scaled back to $10 billion.
The House amendment adds $10 billion to avert expected teacher layoffs; $4.95 billion for Pell Grants; $701 million for border security; $180 million for innovative technology energy loans; $163 million for schools on military installations; $142 million in additional Gulf Coast oil spill funding, for a total of $304 million; $50 million in emergency food assistance; and $16.5 million to build a new solider-processing center at Fort Hood, Texas.
Funding in the House amendment would be offset by $11.7 billion in rescissions from programs that either no longer require the funding this year or next or already have sufficient funds on hand, or do not need the funding. An additional $4.7 billion in savings come from changes to mandatory programs.
If the package is passed by the House, Hoyer said he plans to talk with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., about whether Congress can get the measure to President Obama's desk this week.