Lawmaker to oppose domestic add-ons to war funding bill

By Megan Scully

April 22, 2008

In a move that could put him at odds with Democratic leaders in both chambers, Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Tuesday said he would oppose attaching domestic spending to the pending fiscal 2008 supplemental spending bill if it would provoke a veto.

"If that's going to generate a veto, yes," Inouye responded when asked if he opposed adding non-war-related funding to the bill.

The decorated war veteran said he hopes to avoid any "unnecessary disruptions" in enacting the spending bill. President Bush has said he will not accept a bill that includes unrelated spending items, and OMB Director James Nussle reiterated last week that the White House would veto any supplemental containing non-war spending.

House Democrats are angling to make the supplemental a vehicle for a second stimulus package and other domestic priorities.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., likewise has signaled his support for including domestic provisions and has brushed aside veto threats, arguing it is Congress' prerogative to add funding to the measure.

"We are going to be very, very aware of the fact that the troops need to be funded, and we'll do everything we can to fund the troops," Reid said this month. "But that does not take any ability away from us to do the right thing for the American people."

Inouye said he would support efforts to attach $70 billion to the pending fiscal 2008 supplemental to cover the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the first several months of fiscal 2009.

House leaders appear to be reaching a consensus to combine the $108 billion war bill for the remainder of this year with the advanced funding for fiscal 2009.

Inouye said he believes Senate appropriators will consider the supplemental before it heads to the floor. His comments echoed those of fellow appropriator Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who said Reid told her a committee markup would likely precede floor consideration of the bill.

In the House, Democratic leaders are considering sending the measure straight to the floor without consideration by appropriators - a move that has prompted outcries from Republicans who say this tactic would amount to an abuse of House rules.

House Democrats were expected to discuss the strategy for the supplemental during a meeting Tuesday afternoon. Inouye said he is optimistic that Congress can complete work on the bill by Memorial Day recess.

By Megan Scully

April 22, 2008