Eying its last chance to pass a spending bill this term, the US Senate has loaded up the Iraq and Afghanistan war funding bill with projects related and unrelated to the wars. Senate Leader Harry Reid's strategy includes separating the two types of funding, while recognizing that it will be difficult to overcome President Bush's looming veto.
The tangent projects, added by Senators of both parties, include:
- $50 billion expansion of veterans benefits under the GI Bill
- $100 million for local law enforcement to fight drug trafficking along the Mexico border
- $50 million to track down child predators
- $400 million for rural schools
- $1 billion for heating subsidies for the poor
- $350 million to fight western wildfires
The Senate's bill comes out to about $10 billion more than the $183.8 billion requested by Bush. Last year, President Bush was too busy objecting to a withdrawal timetable to worry about add-ons. Now that a timetable is off the table, the President is less worried about his flexibility and more focused on satisfactory details.
Is this a good way to legislate? If this is Congress' last opportunity to address crucial funding needs, like veteran benefits, should the legislative body just let the opportunity to pass because the president doesn't agree?