War Policy And Pork: Perfect Together
The Senate is debating the Democrats’ Iraq spending plan, which includes a call for the withdrawal of all troops before the 2008 elections and, as Dana Milbank reports, they’re talking about more than the Iraq War:
It’s common for lawmakers to complain that a spending bill is “loaded up like a Christmas tree” with pet projects. But the Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act going through the Senate this week is unusual in that it is loaded up with Christmas trees.
Specifically, it includes $40 million for a Tree Assistance Program that provides help for Christmas trees and ornamental shrubs. Also in the Senate’s version of the Iraq bill: $24 million for sugar beets, $3 million for Hawaiian sugar cane, $13 million for the Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Program, $100 million in compensation for dairy losses, $165.9 million for fisheries disaster relief, and money for numerous other “emergencies.”
And what of the Coburn Amendments that Brad wrote about earlier this week ? Well, at least one of them has already gone down to defeat:
[T]he senators could not dwell on matters of war — Vietnam or Iraq — for long. They had to take up an amendment from Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who demanded to know why $100 million in security for the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions was included in the “emergency” Iraq legislation. “This isn’t sudden,” Coburn argued. “It’s not unpredictable, and it wasn’t unanticipated. There have been nominating conventions since 1832 in this country.”
Coburn lost the vote. For the Senate, even an American political convention qualifies as an Iraq emergency.
I’m beginning to think that the legislative process in this country is irretrievably broken. When Congressmen and Senators can add subsidies for strawberry farmers to a bill that is supposed to be about America’s involvement in a war, then the probability of ever getting control of an out-of-control budget seems to me to be pretty low.