WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans in the House are lining up to
oppose an almost $100 billion war-funding bill if Democrats insist
on including in it a new line of credit for the International
Democrats may have to scramble to pass the bill in the House,
where GOP votes are likely to be needed to make up for about 50
anti-war liberal Democrats who opposed it last month.
At the core of the $98.8 billion House-Senate measure is $79.9
billion for the Pentagon, a figure that's also rankling House
Republicans since it represents an almost $5 billion cut from the
version that passed the House last month. That measure did not
include funding for the IMF.
Responding to media reports that House Democratic negotiators
have agreed to include a new $100 billion line of credit to the IMF
- a top priority of President Barack Obama - the top Republican in
the House said Tuesday he would oppose the bill.
"Let's be clear: a troop-funding bill should fund our troops,
period," said Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. "Weighing
down this critical legislation with nondefense spending will only
drag this process out further and cost it essential Republican
support needed for passage."
Obama promised the IMF money at April's G-20 summit to help
developing countries deal with the troubled global economy. About
$8 billion for an earlier commitment for the IMF will be included.
The actual U.S. costs for the IMF contribution are far less - $5
billion is the Congressional Budget Office estimate - since the
U.S. government is given interest-bearing assets in return. Still,
U.S. debt would have to be issued to provide the money at a time
when government borrowing has exploded.
"There is absolutely no reason for the Democrat majority to
complicate a bill intended to fund our troops by larding it up with
over $108 billion in borrowed money for the IMF," said House GOP
Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.
Brendan Daly, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
D-Calif., said Democratic leaders were optimistic that enough
liberals would come back to the fold to win approval of the bill
regardless of what Republicans do on the vote, which is likely next
The roster of 51 Democrats who opposed the bill the first time
around is studded with leadership loyalists like Financial Services
Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Pelosi confidant
George Miller, D-Calif.
Obama is sending more than 20,000 additional troops to
Afghanistan. For the first time, the annual cost of the war in
Afghanistan is projected to exceed the cost of fighting in Iraq.
With support forces, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is
expected to be about 68,000 by the end of the year - more than
double the size of the U.S. force at the end of 2008.
Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel
Inouye, D-Hawaii, confirmed that the measure would contain money
for eight C-17 cargo planes, a top priority of the Boeing Co. and
its allies in states such as California, Missouri and Washington.
The bill will not contain $50 million for the Pentagon and $30
million for the Justice Department requested by Obama to close the
U.S. detention facility at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
A successful GOP-led effort to prevent the bill from being used to
close Guantanamo dominated Senate debate last month, even as the
war-funding measure would boost total spending approved for the
Iraq and Afghanistan wars above $900 billion.
An official meeting of House-Senate negotiators is tentatively
slated for Thursday, House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman
Kirstin Brost said.
The measure also includes $489 million sought by Sen. Thad
Cochran, R-Miss., and homestate GOP colleague Roger Wicker to
restore barrier islands along the Mississippi Gulf Coast destroyed
by Hurricane Katrina and restore ecosystems such as salt marshes to
protect the coast. Without the islands, Mississippi is more
vulnerable to future hurricanes.
The Mississippi duo also obtained $49 million for hurricane
repairs to a former Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant - which
provides workspace for 20 tenants - to facilitate its transfer to
the Stennis Space Center.
The funding for that and other Senate "earmarks" came despite
an admonition by Obama to keep the measure free of such parochial