WASHINGTON March 28 —
Lawmakers have pledged to rush to passage President Bush's $74.7
billion proposal for paying for the war with Iraq but they want some
Members of both parties are eager to support funds for troops in
the field, but many are complaining that Bush is proposing to retain
an unusual amount of control over most of the funds, limiting
They are also clamoring to add funds for items including state
and local police and other emergency responders and for the
independent commission examining the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And
many say the bill falls far short of the many billions expected to
be needed for a postwar U.S. role in Iraq, including reconstruction,
humanitarian aid and peacekeeping.
"I have to tell you I've been handed a lot of requests from
members to add" projects to the bill, said House Appropriations
Committee Chairman Bill Young, R-Fla., who will be one of the bill's
Young and his Senate counterpart, Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, both say
they will try to keep the package's price tag close to Bush's
figure. But as leaders try pushing it through Congress by April 11,
the date the president requested, many expect its cost to rise.
House Democrats said the $4.2 billion portion of Bush's request
for domestic security neglected $6.7 billion in needed spending.
Extra funds should be provided to help states administer smallpox
vaccinations, protect nuclear materials and other efforts, they
In a letter to Young, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the House
panel's top Democrat, said Bush's request left "many pressing needs
unmet at a time in which threats against the American people seem to
But underscoring the non-confrontational tone that has surrounded
the bill so far, Obey's letter acknowledged that "constraints on the
overall size" of the bill might mean some items would have to wait
for future legislation.
Also weighing in Thursday were a group of senators including
Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and John
McCain, R-Ariz. They asked the Senate Appropriations Committee to
include $11 million so the Sept. 11 commission could complete its
report by June 2004. The commission's leaders have said its current
$3 million budget will be depleted this August.
The extraordinary leeway Bush wants in spending much of the
bill's money also faces bipartisan resistance.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Appropriations
Committee Thursday that the unpredictable course of warfare meant
"our budget plan must also have flexibility to deal with changing
circumstances on the ground."
Rumsfeld would be able to transfer $59.9 billion of the $62.6
billion the bill has for the Pentagon among various accounts without
the usual sign-offs from Congress. The bill would also create
several smaller funds the administration could use for emergencies
with little input from lawmakers.
"The separation of powers has worked well for 215 years," Sen.
Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., told Rumsfeld. "Count me out when you ask for
these additional flexibilities."
And Obey told Rumsfeld at a House Appropriations Committee
session that while some spending leeway in wartime is
understandable, "Flexibility is one thing, but being able to turn
the Constitution into a pretzel is another thing."
In interviews, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate
Appropriations Committees, Young and Stevens, both said they would
favor some limits on the flexibility Bush would get.
Members of both parties also said the $2.45 billion the measure
includes for relief and reconstruction for Iraq was too low. Some
private estimates have been many multiples of that amount over a
long period of time, though U.S. officials say they are counting on
contributions from other countries.
Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., chairman of the House Appropriations
Foreign Operations subcommittee, said it was "hard to imagine" that
figure being sufficient.
"Clearly it will take more," said the panel's senior Democrat,
Rep. Nita Lowey of New York.
Even Rumsfeld didn't rule out the need for more money this year.
Many lawmakers say they think a second such bill is likely in a few
The government's budget year runs through Sept. 30.
|Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld, left, gets ready to testify at the Senate
Appropriations Committee hearing after testimony by Secretary
of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, right, on President Bush's
supplemental budgetary requests on Capitol Hill in Washington
Thursday, March 27, 2003. Rumsfeld and Ridge were asking for
more funding for their respective departments for the war in
Iraq and the ongoing war against terrorism. At rear from left
to right is Lt. Gen. James Cartwright, an aide to the vice
chairman of the Joint Chiefs , Department of Defense
Comptroller Dov Zakheim, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz. (AP Photo/Charles
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