The House has approved a revised, two-part supplemental spending bill that would set aside $165.4 billion for the Dept. of Defense to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and $21.1 billion for DOD construction and funds for other agencies. The package, approved June 19, includes about $11 billion for defense and nondefense construction programs.
The DOD war funding measure was approved 268 to 155, and the other bill, which contained the construction provisions, passed, 416-12.
Over a period of weeks, the House and Senate have passed differing versions of the supplemental funding bills back and forth to each other, but the end now may be in sight. The next step for the latest measure would be Senate action, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said he planned to produce a new, second supplemental spending measure, which is an indication that he wouldn't seek to amend the latest House-passed bill.
Moreover, the White House, which had raised objections to the non-defense spending in earlier versions of the supplemental, supports the latest House measure. In a June 19 statement, the Office of Management and Budget said the new bill "provides our troops the resources they need, does not micromanage our military commanders an stays within the President's reasonable discretionary spending limits for [fiscal year] 2008 and FY 2009."
The latest House measure's construction components include $5.8 billion for further upgrades to levees and other flood-control structures in Louisiana, though the money wouldn't become available until the start of fiscal 2009.
But the state's senior Senator, Mary Landrieu (La.), criticized the bill for assuming a $1.5-billion state matching funding share and and a tighter timetable than the state wanted. Landrieu says meeting those conditions will be "impossible" for Louisiana to achieve.
It also has $4 billion for military construction, of which $1.3 billion is for the Base Realignment and Closure Program; plus $396 million for Dept. of Veterans Affairs polytrauma centers.
House lawmakers also addressed needs in Midwest areas hit hard by recent floods, providing $2.65 billion. That includes $1.3 billion to add to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund and $606 million for the Army Corps of Engineers. That Corps allocation includes $298 million for its operation and maintenance account, $227 million for its flood control and coastal emergencies account, $62 million for its construction account and $18 million for its Mississippi River and Tributaries account.
Missing from the final House bill is $455 million that the Senate had included in an earlier version of the supplemental for the Federal Highway Administration to reimburse states for storm-caused road and bridge repairs they carried out since 2005.