Why I voted against the War Supplemental
Washington, Jun 16, 2009 - Unfortunately, the Democrats are once again attempting to thrust their liberal agenda on the American people under the guise of a war funding bill. We can’t be held hostage by a bill that is supposed to be for funding focused on meeting the needs of our military men and women fighting the War on Terror by including other spending proposals that have nothing to do with the basic purpose of the bill. For example, $108 billion in funding for the International Monetary Fund should not be part of this bill. The Democrats insistence that it should be is reason enough to vote against it. However, there are other examples of provisions that have no place in a war supplemental:
- H.R. 2346 provides a total of $105.8 billion in emergency supplemental funding for Fiscal Year 2009, which is $9.1 billion above the House-passed total of 96.7 billion and $14.5 billion above the Senate-passed total of $91.3 billion.
- The Conference Report provides $77.1 billion in spending for defense and ongoing wars, which is $4.1 billion less than the House bill. The Conference Report includes $2.7 billion for military construction, $500 million less than the House bill.
- Detainee Photographs: The Conference Report does not contain a Senate amendment to block the release of photographs of individuals captured or detained by the U.S. military during overseas operations between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009. The provision would have required the Secretary of Defense to certify if the release of such photographs would endanger citizens of the U.S. or members of the Armed Forces deployed overseas. If certified, the photos would have been blocked from disclosure for three years. The Secretary could renew the certification at any time. Without this language, the decision whether to release these potentially dangerous photos remains in the hands of the courts.
- International Monetary Fund: The Conference Report provides $108 billion in new loan authority for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which the President agreed to at April's G-20 summit. The funding is unrelated to U.S. war efforts, and may fundamentally change the IMF's role while weakening the U.S.'s power within the institution. The provision represents a ten-fold increase in the U.S.'s current IMF contribution to fund a massive expansion of the IMF's lending programs. The funds for this increase coincide with $4.1 billion in cuts made to defense spending in the House-passed bill.
Many Members have expressed concerns that the additional IMF loan guarantees are tantamount to an international bailout and should not be included in an emergency troop funding bill. In addition, Members have been concerned that the funds provided to the IMF could be passed on to state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran, Syria, and Venezuela. Some of the funds would be used to increase the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which is an international reserve established to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries. Under the program, member countries are given access to SDRs based on their proportional investment in the IMF and can exchange the IMF currency for hard currency, like dollars. All members of the IMF are allowed access to this money to some extent or another. In a June 9 letter to Speaker Pelosi, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor stated that "Venezuela will receive a benefit worth up to $3.2 billion, Syria $350 million, Sudan, $202 million, Iran $1.8 billion, Bolivia $204 million, Myanmar $308 million, and Zimbabwe $421 million."
- Cash for Clunkers: The Conference Report provides $1 billion for a program to issue vouchers between $3,500 and $4,500 to offset the purchase of a new vehicle upon the trade-in of a vehicle with less fuel efficiency. By offering a federal voucher to anyone who trades in a less fuel-efficient car for a new one, proponents of the legislation argue that the bill will increase car sales and help struggling car manufacturers. Many Members argue that the voucher would amount to nothing more than a subsidy to prop up auto manufacturers, many of which have already received billions in taxpayer money. Others suggest that by granting vouchers only for the purchase of new cars, and not more fuel-efficient used cars, the bill makes it difficult for low-income families to take advantage of the voucher.
- Health and Human Services: The Conference Report provides $1.85 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency fund to prepare for an influenza pandemic, including tools to assist international efforts to respond to H1N1 influenza (swine flu). Of the funds made available, $350 million would be earmarked for State and local government preparation and $200 million would be set aside for international disease surveillance through the CDC. An additional $200 million is made available for pandemic preparedness through the State Department's Global Health and Child Survival program.
- Contingent Emergency Flu Appropriation: The Conference Report provides $5.8 billion as a "contingent" emergency appropriation to provide Federal, State, and local public health and emergency response agencies with resources to effectively respond should an escalation of the HINI virus require a national vaccination program.
I was reluctant to vote for the first version of the war supplemental last month mainly because of my concerns about the Obama administration’s Afghanistan strategy. I delivered remarks on the floor of the House on May 14, 2009 explaining my hesitancy to give carte blanche to the administration. Let me note, I have had an opportunity to speak to the President on this issue, it doesn’t seem as though he’s moving to correct the policy in Afghanistan.
Another reason I was inclined to vote “no” is because I feel the Iraqis are not being required to utilize their future revenues, which will be massive, in order to help sustain military operations currently securing their freedom.