House Action Supports "Disgrace and Defeat," Black Leader Says The Congressional Leadership Has Failed Its Mission
Project 21's Kevin Martin is speaking out in support of President George W. Bush's decision to veto the controversial emergency supplemental spending bill for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan that was approved by the House today by a thin 218-212 margin.
This bill links aid to our military forces serving overseas to a timetable for their withdrawal. Martin, a Navy veteran, says lawmakers should not tie the hands of our forces serving overseas. He also objects to using important legislation as a vehicle to approve earmarks, as this legislation does.
"Any bill that sets deadlines and is loaded with pork-barrel earmarks for special-interest groups will only secure the disgrace and defeat of the mission our brave troops are pledged to fight," said Martin. "It is the job of those in uniform to fight for and protect America and her interests no matter the cost or time required. It is the job of Congress to see that these brave men and women are well-funded and able to complete their mission. The congressional leadership has failed its mission."
Introduced to fund and maintain an increased troop level in Iraq and also fund operations in Afghanistan, the bill as passed by the House contains a firm deadline of September 1, 2008 for a total withdrawal of troops and sets battlefield requirements regarding training, supply and rest periods. A similar bill in the Senate that contains a non-binding withdrawal date of March 31, 2008 may receive a vote as early as March 26.
Also controversial is the $21 billion in domestic spending added to the $124 billion legislation by the House. This includes $74 million for peanut storage, $283 million in milk subsidies, $120 million for the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries, $35 million for NASA and $25 million for spinach growers. The Senate version of the overall legislation totals $122 billion. The original requested spending for Iraq and Afghanistan was $95.5 billion.
Shortly after the vote, President George W. Bush renewed his vow to veto the legislation. He earlier said the bill imposes "arbitrary and restrictive conditions" that would "handcuff our generals in the field by denying them the flexibility they need to adjust their operations to the changing situations on the ground." Regarding the added spending provisions, President Bush said congressional leaders "have a responsibility to pass a clean bill that does not use funding for our troops as leverage to get special-interest spending for the districts."
"It seems that the liberal leadership in Congress, caught in a quagmire of appeasing their thin majority with the demands of the anti-war special-interests who helped get them elected, are strapping domestic spending earmarks to the backs of our troops," added Project 21's Martin. "They called this sort of behavior a 'culture of corruption' just a few months ago, but that seems to have changed since they became the bosses."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992.