Congress Set To Pass Troop Funding Bill
House Republicans Help Avert Potential Spending Shortfall, Block Tax Hike
Avoiding a shortfall in military spending that could have impacted personnel in Utah, Congress is set to pass a supplemental spending bill today that will fund troops at home and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to information released by the office of Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah).
The final troop funding agreement - which was announced yesterday and will be voted on today as an amendment to HR 2642 - comes just days before the military, according to sources on Capitol Hill, would have had to face the potential of cutting back on operations and manpower absent additional appropriations.
"It took too long to finally approve this defense spending," Congressman Bishop said, "but this legislation is the right thing to do for our troops at home and abroad, and will make sure they have the resources they need and deserve." The northern Utah lawmaker, whose district includes Hill Air Force Base and a majority of Utah's military installations, added "Congress plays way too many political games when it comes to funding our military, and the majority leadership back here was cutting this one way too close, but I'm glad this agreement finally came together. And it came together without arbitrary timelines for withdrawal and without any tax increases."
Certain Congressional Democrats had pushed for tax increases to offset the additional defense spending, but in the face of stiff opposition, those potential tax hikes were dropped from the final bill. The legislation also includes new spending on education and other benefits for American veterans, and no Washington-driven mandates, such as withdrawal timelines, for military leaders in the war zones.
"[This bill] gets our troops the funding they need for success, without hamstringing our commanders in the field with politically motivated war restrictions," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "It provides new resources to help our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan get a better education, without raising taxes unnecessarily on the American people."
Even though the primary purpose of the legislation is to further fund military operations, the bill also includes a handful of domestic spending measures. These include an extension of unemployment benefits, with a Republican-backed work requirement added, and a provision that would ensure SCHIP funds are targeted to help neediest children first.
Mr. Bishop, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, added, "This still isn't a great way to legislate, but this funding had to pass and it had to pass now. Otherwise we were unnecessarily putting in jeopardy the livelihoods and safety of those who work every day to defend our country and keep us safe."