Congress complicates war funding with new demands
Republicans and Democrats want to add measures that could lead to a Bush veto.
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Nussle responded that the problem could have been handled in the 2008 appropriations process but was underfunded by the Congress. "It was underfunded because you had a veto threat," she said.Skip to next paragraph
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With a head count in the Senate well short of what is needed to override a presidential veto, Democrats are talking openly of postponing most spending bills for fiscal year 2009 until there is a new president in the White House and a new Congress. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
But Republicans, too, are pushing for policy and spending adjustments in the president's proposed war-funding bill. Last week, Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine joined Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Evan Bayh of Indiana in calling for restructuring US funds to Iraq as a loan, rather than a grant.
With oil prices soaring, Iraq should be using its own budget surpluses to fund reconstruction, these critics say. As things stand now, the $4.8 billion for rebuilding Iraq in the FY 2008 war-spending bill is to be funded out of US deficits.
"The Iraqis have reaped a windfall that should be tapped to pay more of the expenses of this war," says Senator Collins.
Citing the billions of Iraq reconstruction dollars that have been reportedly "stolen, misplaced, lost, or in some bank account that we don't know about," Sen. Judd Gregg (R) of New Hampshire says that "any dollars the US spends on reconstruction in Iraq should be matched one-for-one by the Iraqi government."
"It does seem to me that Iraq is not bearing a fair portion of the load here," he said at the April 16 hearing.
Meanwhile, antiwar groups are ramping up for a national "Iraq/recession campaign," which makes the case that the war has caused the economic downturn. "The money being spent on the war should be spent instead on getting us out of a nasty recession and helping those who are hurting because of it," said Nita Chaudhary, campaign director for MoveOn.org Political Action, in a statement.