While most of the media attention about the various Iraq-war funding bills has been focused on the battle between the Democrat-led Congress and President Bush on a time-table for troop withdrawal, more attention needs to be given to the 'pork' that has been added to the Democrat-sponsored bills, pork the White House calls, "excessive and extraneous non-emergency spending."
-Billions of dollars in domestic spending for farm drought relief, medical coverage for poor children and hurricane recovery
-Projects on the reconstruction of New Orleans levees and peanut storehouses in Georgia
-$25 million for spinach growers hit by last year's E. coli scare
-$500 million for wildfire prevention for the West Coast
-$120 million for shrimp and Atlantic menhaden fishermen
-$15 million to prevent salt water 'intrusion' on Louisiana rice fields
-$3 million for funding a sugar cane Hawaiian co-op
-$24 million for funding for sugar beets
-$2 million to the University of Vermont Education Excellence Program
-$25 million for the Safe and Drug Free Schools program
-$48 million for disaster reconstruction for NASA
-$13 million for mine safety research
-$25 million for asbestos abatement and tunnel repair at the Capitol Power Plant
-$640 million for LIHEAP
-$13.2 million for avian flu research and monitoring
-$3.5 million related to guided tours of the U.S. Capitol
-$22.8 million for geothermal research and development
-$12 million for forest service money (requested by the president in the non-emergency FY2008 budget)
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that this amounts to the Democrats trying to buy votes -- even trying to buy the President's vote with the last one listed. But it's not working.
Here's an example that the The Washington Post points out: "For more than a year, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R) has tried unsuccessfully to secure federal funds to prevent salt water from intruding on rice fields in his lowland Louisiana district. So it came as a surprise last week when Boustany found $15 million in the House's huge war spending bill for his rice farmers. He hadn't even asked that the bill include it."
Fortunately, Boustany is not buying it. He said, "It gives me no satisfaction to vote against measures that I have been working for since even before [Hurricane] Katrina, but I cannot in good conscience vote for a bill that does this to our troops," Boustany said yesterday, decrying what he called the "cheap politics" of using disaster aid to win votes on a measure this controversial."
Isn't it interesting that Nancy Pelosi said in response to the president's refusal to sign the last version of the bill, "It is clear that the difference between the Democrats and the president is the issue of accountability. He will not accept any accountability or responsibility for what is happening (in Iraq)."
Is filling the bill with pork to get votes being responsible and "accountable"?
John Bolten, former Ambassador to the UN, said the Democrats have made it impossible for the president to sign the bill because of insisting on a timetable for troop withdrawal. "Whether waiveable or not, timelines send exactly the wrong signal to our adversaries, to our allies and, most importantly, to the troops in the field."
Again, the The Washington Post reported, "Republicans say the Democrats' failure to pass a "clean'' funding bill without any conditions has hurt military operations around the world by requiring Pentagon planners to juggle money among accounts. Democrats say there is enough money to fund Iraq operations into July -- more than enough time for the deadlock to be resolved."
I say, forget the strong-arming troop-withdrawal requirements, cut the pork, and fund our soldiers!
Congress can come up with other bills for the 'pork' items and even on a time-table for troop withdrawal, but let's stop the "unaccountable" antics of loading a much needed funding bill, now.
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