Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the Pay for War Resolution today which would “require Congress to ensure that future wars are paid for and don’t add to the deficit,” according to a press release from his office.
The resolution allows the war spending to be offset over ten years, and it is up to Congress to determine whether to pay for wars using spending cuts, revenue increases, or some combination of both. The resolution allows the Senate to override the offset requirement and provides flexibility for military responses to genuine emergencies or dire economic conditions. Senator Franken indicated that he intends to make this part of the ongoing budget discussion and hopes to include it in any long-term budget legislation the Senate takes up.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates “met with Senate Republicans Tuesday and asked them to vote for a stalled war supplemental bill he hoped would pass months ago,” POLITICO reports.
But whether the GOP conference will get on board with the $37 billion legislation — and when — is still very much in question, despite party consensus that funding American troops constitutes a "true emergency."
Democrats had wanted to send the bill to the president’s desk by the July 4 recess, but amendments added by the House at the 11th hour unrelated to defense spending caused a stalemate, with Republicans reticent to support a bill with unwanted provisions on health care and education.
When questioned by reporters as he exited the caucus room, Gates said he "absolutely" asked Republicans to vote for the bill, adding that he also "talked about a wide range of military and defense issues."
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “emphasized the urgency Gates expressed and his caucus feels about moving forward with the supplemental bill, and said he was concerned by the secretary’s warning that if the legislation does not pass by the end of this month, troop payment could be delayed until after the August recess.”
"This is a true emergency. We need to figure a way to get the funding for the troops in the field, and we need to do it as soon as possible," McConnell said.
(credit image – daylife/getty)
Congress returns this week "to an ambitious agenda that includes a Supreme Court confirmation, major financial regulation, potential immigration reform and other significant priorities," the Upshot reports.
• Elena Kagan: Congress hopes to confirm U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court before the August recess. First, the Senate Judiciary Committee must vote to confirm, then her confirmation will be put to a full Senate vote. Some Republicans have expressed their opposition to Kagan’s nomination, but Democrats are still expected to round up the 60 votes required to overcome a Republican filibuster and confirm her.
• Financial Reform: Though Democrats weren’t able to pass financial reform legislation in the Senate before July 4th, they did get the good news that Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell plans to support the legislation despite voting against an earlier version in May. Her vote switch gave new life to the bill in the wake of Byrd’s death and consequent loss of Byrd’s supporting vote. Republican Sen. Susan Collins also said that she is "inclined to support" the bill, further bolstering Democratic efforts. The bill would rein in the power of big banks, try to prevent a future financial collapse, and add oversight to many sectors of the financial industry.
• Unemployment Benefits: An estimated 2 million Americans reached the end of their unemployment benefits during the six weeks the Senate has been debating the issue. The longer the debate continues, the more unemployed Americans join that group. Passing the proposed six month extension is a challenge without Byrd in the Senate, but his temporary successor would provide the key 60th vote.
• Immigration Reform: Immigration has jumped into the forefront of congressional debate as Arizona’s controversial state immigration law makes waves across the country. President Obama identified immigration reform as one of his top priorities in the months ahead, yet its prospects in Congress seem dim. The controversial nature of the issues makes it a difficult topic for members involved in difficult re-election races. The Department of Justice has pressed forward with legal opposition to Arizona’s law, but the legislation for now remains stalled in Congress.
• Energy Reform: Democrats can likely pass a bill that creates new incentives for alternative energy and limits offshore oil drilling. The question is whether or not they can also use the energy bill to target climate change. Senate Republicans fiercely oppose President Obama’s proposed cap on carbon emissions, as do some key centrist lawmakers (especially the ones protecting the coal industry in their districts).
• War Funding: Just before the July 4th recess, the president threatened to veto the latest version of a spending bill which will, in part, fund the president’s troop surge in Afghanistan. The president took issue with cuts for education funding included in the bill passed by the House July 1. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where the president hopes allies will restore the funding.
(credit image – realcourage)
Senators have given final passage to the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4899) by a vote of 67-28.
According to a Democratic Policy Committee summary, it would “provide a total of $58.86 billion for Fiscal Year 2010, including $45.4 billion in discretionary funding and $13.4 billion in mandatory funding, equal to the President’s request.”
This amount includes $32.8 billion for the Department of Defense for operations, personnel costs, and equipment reconstitution related to overseas contingency operations, primarily in Afghanistan, including $2.6 billion for the Afghan Security Forces Fund and $1 billion for the Iraqi Security Forces Fund; $5.1 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for the costs of past disasters; $2.8 billion to support relief efforts in Haiti; and $68 million for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill response.
You can read an Appropriations Committee summary of the specific spending provisions in this bill here.
The bill will have to be worked out with the House version in conference.
(credit image – daylife/reuters)
An amendment offered by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4899) has been adopted by a vote of 60-37.
What it would do, per a press release:
In an effort to assist small contractors who are struggling to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lead paint regulations, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to provide small contractors with more time to receive mandated training.
The rule, called “Lead: Renovation, Repair and Paint Rule,” went into effect April 22, 2010. It requires that contractors who perform work in homes built before 1978 be EPA certified or face fines up to $37,500 per violation per day. Unfortunately, as a result of EPA’s lack of planning, there still are not enough certified trainers in most states to educate contractors about these new requirements. Three states, Louisiana, Wyoming and South Dakota, do not have a single EPA-certified trainer. In Maine, there are just three EPA-certified trainers. Hundreds of Maine contractors have signed up for training, but are being forced to wait.
The amendment introduced today by Senators Collins, Snowe and cosponsored by several of their colleagues would bar the EPA from levying fines against contractors who have signed up for training classes by September 30, 2010. This delay would allow adequate time for contractors to comply with the new regulation.
(credit image – daylife/associated press)