$82B U.S. Supplemental Spending Bill Has a Number of Hooks
House and Senate negotiators agreed Tuesday on an $82 billion fiscal 2005 emergency spending package for Iraq, Afghanistan and tsunami relief. Final passage is all but assured, with floor action expected Thursday in the House and in the Senate next week. Completion of the bill comes as the Army faces a severe cash crunch; the Pentagon was forced Monday to submit a $1.1 billion request to transfer funds within existing accounts to cover shortfalls. As drafted, the conference report would provide $75.9 billion for military activities, a $920.6 million increase over the administration’s request.
Highlights of the final agreement include:
- Military funds include $17.4 billion for procurement, with a $1.37 billion increase over the president’s request for Army and Marine Corps accounts. The funds are largely aimed at replacing equipment lost in battle, bolstering force protection needs such as night-vision goggles and add-on armor kits, and outfitting troops rotating into Iraq and Afghanistan.
- The measure blocks cancellation of a multiyear C-130J transport plane contract.
- It also postpones a decision on reducing the number of Navy aircraft carriers from 12 to 11, a step that would have effectively mothballed the USS John F. Kennedy.
- It would also bar the Navy from concentrating work on the DD(X) next-generation destroyer at a single shipyard.
On other fronts, its measures include:
- A $1 billion rescission of previously appropriated funds for Turkey.
- $283 million cut from in Afghanistan reconstruction projects considered lower priorities
- $100 million cut from contributions to United Nations peacekeeping missions
- They also cut $170 million from a $400 million request for aid to unspecified allies in the war on terrorism, despite a heavy White House lobbying effort
- Overseas food aid was increased by $90 million, to $240 million.
- $635 million for border protection the administration did not request, including $274 million to pay for 500 border patrol agents, 50 immigration and customs inspectors, 168 enforcement agents and detention officers, and 1,950 detention beds. The measure also includes House-backed provisions making it easier for judges to reject immigrants’ asylum claims, tightening restrictions on drivers’ licenses, and expediting completion of a fence on the California-Mexico border.
- Unrelated and pork efforts such as redirecting existing funds to study preservation of Rio Grande River silvery minnows, providing debt service on a firefighting training academy in Elko, Nev., and allowing oil and gas exploration along Mississippi’s Gulf Islands National Seashore also made it into the bill.
Unrelated items that failed to make the final bill include:
- Expedited construction of a Gilberton, PA clean coal facility.
- $95 million for water and agriculture projects in Nevada’s Walker River Basin.
- $26 million to transfer nuclear materials out of New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory.
GovExec.com: May 4, 2005 Daily Briefing