Justifiably Pugnacious

Congressional Quarterly is reporting that the House Democratic leadership is just about done crafting a massive $109 billion dollar war supplemental bill. There’s only one catch. In an effort to force some needed domestic spending responsibility the House Democrats have charted a collision course with their Republican counterparts.

On top of the war funding, Democrats also want to attach billions of dollars in domestic spending initiatives to the measure, which could be the only appropriations bill enacted this year.

John P. Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, estimated the bill would outline about $102 billion in war spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, plus an additional $70 billion or so in fiscal 2009 war spending.

The mere fact that I’m even writing this post is a travesty. It’s been five and a half years since the war in Iraq started and we’re still paying for the bloody thing using emergency supplementals. Why? Not a clue, but I’d wager it has something to do with the fact that the White House doesn’t want to have to justify why we’ve spent $5 Billion dollars training the Iraqi police/security forces while local police get the shaft, among other things.

Well, during the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing yesterday Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) had had enough. She took White House budget director Jim Nussle to task on the issue and she certainly wasn’t subtle about it. You can find the video of her exchange at Think Progress but here’s a short sample:

Mr. Nussle, I’ve got to tell you, I’m really disappointed in your testimony. It’s been some time that I have heard the kind of tone that has been expressed by a representative of the Bush administration. Your testimony has been disappointing in both tone and substance.

I personally take offense at the snarky, scolding, dismissive way that this testimony represents. And I think it’s inappropriate. […]

This is an ideological commentary, not the testimony of OMB. So since you’re pugnacious, guess what? I’m going to be pretty pugnacious, too, only my pugnaciousness is not going to be directed at the Congress. It’s going to be pugnacious about the people I represent.

[…]

Number one, let’s go to safety and security. We have funded the surge of Baghdad, but we have not funded the surge of violent crime in Baltimore, Biloxi, or other places. You have zeroed out the COPS program. You have zeroed out the Byrne grant.

[…]

And this administration has funded $5 billion over the last couple of years to fund the training of Iraqi police. You bet they need training. But I am telling you, I need the money, Senator Shelby and I need the money to make sure that our local law enforcement, the thin blue line, gets the money that they need to fight violent crime. So I’m going to ask in plain English: If, in fact, we (inaudible) the supplemental, restore the Byrne grants and only the Byrne grants to the needed level of $560 million, will you support it or will we face a veto threat?

Of course Sen. Mikulski doesn’t really need an answer, she’s already been given one by the Rep. Jerry Lewis, ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee: yes.

“Any attempt by the Democrat leadership to use procedural gimmickry to jam billions in unrelated spending down the throats of the American public . . . will ignite the full and unadulterated opposition from the Republican members of this committee,” he said.

All I can say is: How rich. The same party leaders who have for years run this war with the national charge card have the umbrage to carp about spending? The same party leaders who are upset over funding local police forces that they’ve cut dare get upset? Screw that, I don’t think so.

We’ve spent years paying to police a civil war with a debt my generation will end up paying off for the rest of our lives, while local needs go unmet. Rep Lewis’s party has tanked our economy, destroyed our world prestige, and begun to gut our military rediness. So when they say they’re upset you know what my response is? Good.

They want to try their hand at the “full and unadulterated opposition” game come 2009? In the words of their fearless leader, “Bring it on”.

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