As the Memorial Day recess drew near, the Senate had begun debate on a $212-billion spending measure that would continue to fund U.S.military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and provide about $10 billion for defense and non-defense construction. The House had approved similar totals for non-defense construction on May 15. But the White House objects to the bills’ price tags, and is promising a presidential veto.
The Senate supplemental spending package that came to the floor on May 20 would provide $3.4 billion for Dept. of Defense construction projects, many of them located in Iraq and Afghanistan. But there is substantial stateside work, too, including $1.2 billion to continue the current Base Realignment and Closure Round.
The Senate measure also contains $5.8 billion for the Corps of Engineers to carry out levee improvements and other flood-control work in Louisiana. In addition, It allots $437 million for work at Dept. of Veterans Affairs polytrauma rehabilitation centers plus $451 million for the Federal High-way Administration to reimburse 21 states for road and bridge repair costs they incurred after storms and other natural disasters occurring since 2005.
The House on May 15 had passed a non-war supplemental bill that includes the $5.8 billion for Louisiana flood-control improvements. That bill also recommends $4.6 billion for military construction projects, including $939 million for the base-closure program and $956 million for DOD hospitals.
But the Office of Management and Budget issued a statement on May 20, saying that President Bush would veto the Senate bill. OMB said the measure exceeds Bush’s $108-billion proposal and has “billions of dollars of unrequested domestic spending.” OMB noted it earlier had issued a veto threat over the House version, and said that the Senate bill “moves even further in the wrong direction, adding another $10 billion in unrelated spending to the President’s request, and numerous authorizing provisions that have no place in a troop-funding bill.”