Friday, May 22, 2009
Senators Udall and Bingaman Vote for Supplemental War Funding
On Monday, all three of New Mexico's Congressmen of the $97 BILLION supplemental appropriations bill to fund the war spending and foreign aid efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq through September 30. Yesterday, Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman did the same with a Senate version of the bill totaling $91.3 BILLION. The measure passed by a margin of 86-3, with 10 abstentions. The only Dem to vote no was Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold.
As I'm sure you know by now, the Senate version of the bill stripped $80 million in funding for closing Guantanamo prison -- ostensibly because Dems wanted more info on Obama's plans. Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also was concerned that the prisoners would be set loose to hang out in our neighborhoods: "“You can’t put them in prison unless you release them ... we will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States." The only problem with his statement? A prison transfer isn't a release and nobody has ever proposed releasing any Guantanamo prisoners in the US.
The Senate bill also contains less for weapons procurement and foreign aid than the House version. It also fulfills Obama's request to extend up to $108 billion in credit lines to the International Monetary Fund for helping countries suffering from the global financial crisis, and backs up the IMF's plan to sell 400 tons (12.97 million ounces) of gold. After the Memorial Day break, the House and Senate will confer on a compromise measure to present to Obama in June.
Don't you wish the Congress was instead voting to spend $97 billion on things like commuter trains and light rail? In our dreams, as the seemingly never-ending military missions continue in their 8th year. The war in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, with the US invading Iraq on March 20, 2003. I'm well aware that there are cogent arguments for continuing on this path in order to try to rectify -- in some way -- the grave errors and tragedies perpetrated by Bush et al. But is that even possible?
Will $97 billion more dollars thru September really make a difference in the outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan? What the heck is the exit plan for Afghanistan? What does "winning" there entail? Does anybody really know what's going on in Iraq right now and what will change if we stay there for who knows how long? While dealing with the supplemental, members of Congress asked few questions, demanded no detailed plans and challenged no assumptions in the conduct of the wars, as far as I can tell. Instead, they seemed to be content to take Obama's word that more billions are needed, 22,00 more troops must go to Afghanistan and the military and diplomatic strategies being pursued are the right ones.
As I noted before, the supplemental bill is in addition to Obama's regular budget request now before the Congress for $205 BILLION for Iraq and Afghanistan over the next 18 months. More than $75 BILLION of that is earmarked for the rest of the year.
According to the Cost of War counters provided by the National Priorities Project, as of today we have spent a total of $859,684,211,796 on our wars-occupations since 2001 -- $671,225,383,000 for Iraq and $188,458,925,442 for Afghanistan. The numbers don't exactly add up because the counters keep moving at a rapid pace as the dollar amounts continue to increase by the second. And the conflicts drag on and on and on and on.
May 22, 2009 at 09:48 AM in Afghanistan, Economy, Populism, International Relations, Iraq War, Military Affairs, NM Congressional Delegation, Obama Administration, Sen. Tom Udall, Social Security | Permalink
Yeah Russ! He's the best US Senator currently in office.
Posted by: Proud Democrat | May 22, 2009 11:16:33 AM