What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Curbing Presidential Power : H.R. 3289. Fiscal 2004 Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan/Vote to Eliminate Provisions in the Bill Which Would Provide the Administration with Broad Discretion Over the Use of U.S. Taxpayer Funds in Iraq.
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H.R. 3289. Fiscal 2004 Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan/Vote to Eliminate Provisions in the Bill Which Would Provide the Administration with Broad Discretion Over the Use of U.S. Taxpayer Funds in Iraq.
house Roll Call 550     Oct 16, 2003
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

The U.S. Constitution explicitly states that Congress shall be the sole branch of government that can spend money from the U.S. Treasury (the so-called "power of the purse"). At the same time, however, the Constitution vests military decision-making in the executive branch in which one of the several roles of the president is commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces. In times of war, inter-branch conflicts often arise because, especially on the issue of war powers, the legislative and executive branches can be characterized as separated institutions that share powers. During debate on the administration's $87 billion supplemental spending request to Congress, issues surfaced involving the constitutional separation of powers. Specifically, Progressives were concerned with language in the supplemental request which would grant the Bush administration broad authority to transfer funding from one area of the budget into another area of the budget without congressional approval. Progressives noted that $53 billion of the $87 billion included in the supplemental could be transferred by administration officials into areas which they, but not necessarily Congress, saw fit; in the view of Progressives, granting the president broad discretion over expenditures was unconstitutional. In an effort to protect Congress's power of the purse, Congressman Markey (D-MA) proposed an amendment which would have eliminated many of the provisions in the supplemental bill which allowed the president and the Defense Secretary to transfer congressionally-allocated funding between accounts at their discretion. Conservatives opposed Markey's measure and argued that in order to fight the war in Iraq effectively, the president and members of his administration needed the authority to rearrange spending priorities as events on the ground unfolded. Congress, they argued, is often slow to respond to changing circumstances and, in the rapidly changing combat situation in Iraq, congressional tardiness on issues of funding might undermine military operations. On a vote 146-279, the Markey amendment was defeated and the provisions which provided the Bush Administration with broad discretion over funding issues remained in the underlying supplemental spending bill.

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