What: All Issues : War & Peace : General US Intervention Overseas : HR 1268. Fiscal 2005 Supplemental Appropriations/ Vote to Express the Sense of the Senate that the Bush Administration Should Draft Budgets for Overseas Military Operations and Provide Cost Estimates to Congress Rather Than Rely on the Truncated Emergency Supplemental Spending Process.
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HR 1268. Fiscal 2005 Supplemental Appropriations/ Vote to Express the Sense of the Senate that the Bush Administration Should Draft Budgets for Overseas Military Operations and Provide Cost Estimates to Congress Rather Than Rely on the Truncated Emergency Supplemental Spending Process.
senate Roll Call 96     Apr 18, 2005
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

When issues such as a national emergency or a natural disaster arise which require immediate funding, Congress often drafts a supplemental appropriations bill to provide additional government funding for needs which were not foreseeable during the normal congressional appropriations process. During debate on the 2005 Supplemental Appropriations bill for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan and disaster relief assistance for victims of the December 2004 tsunami, Senator Byrd (D-WV) introduced an amendment which would express the sense of the Senate that "any funds for ongoing military operations overseas, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan, should be included in the president's annual budget request and urge the president to detail cost estimates for ongoing overseas military operations." Sense of the Senate amendments are non-binding and lack the force of law; their purpose is often symbolic in nature. Senator Byrd explained that "from the moment our military first attacked Osama bin Laden's hideouts in Afghanistan, through the time that our first soldiers set foot inside Iraq, continuing right up until the present day, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq have been entirely funded by what the American people might call a series of stopgap spending measures. These measures...take the form of last-minute requests by the White House for Congress to approve tens of billions of dollars on an accelerated timetable." To date, the White House has refused to request funding for military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan through the normal appropriations process-a more deliberative process than the emergency supplemental approach-and has failed to provide Congress with cost estimates for military actions overseas. (In February 2005, the Congressional Budget Office-the non-partisan budgetary arm of Congress-estimated that the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would amount to $458 billion over the next 10 years.) To Progressives, the White House's failure to budget for military actions in advance of expenditures amounts to dishonesty. "The President will not tell the American people what the war in Iraq will cost," said Byrd. "The United States is sinking deeper and deeper into debt, and the administration's failure to budget for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is sending our country even deeper into red ink." (It should be noted that the annual budget deficit is calculated using revenues and expenditures contained in regular appropriations bills. Supplemental appropriations, then, can be used to keep spending off the books for that year and thereby hide the true budgetary impact of "emergency" spending on the budget deficit.) Senator Byrd argued that the annual "emergency" requests by the Bush Administration were tantamount to overcharging a credit card. "Just like the slick advertising slogan for credit cards, the administration's repeated requests for supplemental appropriations for the war exemplify the phrase 'buy now, pay later.'" Conservatives voted in opposition to Byrd's amendment but failed to explain their votes during debate on the Senate floor. A bipartisan group of senators voted in favor of Byrd's amendment, the measure passed 61-31, and the Bush Administration was instructed by the Senate to draft budgets for overseas military operations and provide cost estimates to Congress rather than rely on the emergency supplemental spending process.

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