Tuesday, June 16: Conference Report on H.R. 2346 – Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009

The conference agreement appropriates $105.9 billion, 77% of which is for military-related costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. The total is 15% more than the president requested, $9 billion more than the House bill, and $14.6 billion more than the Senate version. The military funding in the agreement includes $25.8 billion to refurbish or replace equipment used in the two wars, 15% more than requested, including $2.7 billion, mostly unrequested, for C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft. It funds the president’s request for $3.6 billion to expand and improve Afghan security forces, and $400 million in FY 2009 for a program to build up the counterinsurgency capabilities of the Pakistani military, and an additional $700 million in FY 2010 and FY 2011.
The measure includes a Senate provision that would cost the Treasury about $5 billion to increase U.S. support of assistance provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stabilize countries hard hit by the global economic crisis, a provision strongly opposed by Republicans. The agreement does not contain a Senate provision that would have prohibited the release of photos showing abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, a provision opposed by most House Democrats. The measure does not provide funds for closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It appropriates $7.7 billion to address a potential pandemic flu.

KEY CONCERNS

  • Excess Spending: H.R. 2346 includes more than $28.7 billion of non-war spending that is not offset with spending reductions elsewhere.  Overall, the legislation exceeds the President’s original request by $20.9 billion or 24.6%.  Non-war spending in the conference report includes: $5 billion for the IMF (to provide loan guarantees of $108 billion), $420 million for Mexico, $13.2 million for the Essential Air Service, $256 million to aid developing countries affected by the financial crisis, and $1 billion for the “cash for clunkers” program.
  • IMF Funding: The conference report appropriates $5 billion to make available $108 billion in loans to the IMF.  This “global bailout” will require the federal government to borrow money (from the Chinese, for example) to then lend it to the IMF.  The IMF has a large bureaucracy (2,600 employees), and some conservatives have expressed concerns that it is moving away from its purpose as the lender of last resort, and increasing its role as a development agency.  The conference report also authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to agree to the sale of nearly 13 million ounces of IMF gold to in effect create an endowment for itself—which would make the institution less accountable to the U.S. and other member nations.
  • Funding for West Bank and Gaza: The legislation provides a total of $660 million for the West Bank and Gaza. There is concern that this money could fall into the hands of Hamas, since it controls much of the civil society in Gaza.
  • Release of Detainee Photos: The conference report does not include language in the Senate-passed bill (the Lieberman/Graham Amendment) to prevent the release of detainee photos.

PASSED – 226-202 – SEE ROLL CALL VOTE

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm  Comments (2)  

Wednesday, June 10: .R. 2410 – Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011

This bill authorizes appropriations for the State Department, the Peace Corps, international activities, international assistance programs, and related agencies.
Possible Concerns:
Pay Raise:
Provides a 23% increase in pay to overseas Foreign Service Officers when Americans are struggling to keep jobs at home
Abortion Advocacy:
Creates an Office for Global Women’s Issues to “coordinate efforts of the United States Government regarding gender integration and women’s empowerment in the United States foreign policy.” It is highly likely that this office will include in its mission the advancement of abortion advocacy abroad
Sexual Orientation Language:
Would require the tracking of discrimination related to sexual orientation in foreign countries based on “actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.”  The bill would also require U.S. diplomatic representatives to encourage foreign governments to reform or repeal laws that criminalize “homosexuality or consensual homosexual conduct, or restricting the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms.”  The language places sexual orientation as a foreign policy priority and focuses on a class of particular individuals rather than crimes committed against any individual.
No UN Reform:
Increases US contributions to the UN by approximately 32% over FY09 levels without requiring any reforms.
Cost to Taxpayers:
The bill authorizes approximately $41 billion in the FY2010 and FY2011 period.  It authorizes approximately $1 billion for FY2012 through FY2014, for a total of approximately $42 billion over a five year period.

PASSED 235-187

Published in: on June 10, 2009 at 9:23 pm  Comments (1)