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House Approves Defense Spending Bill, Another CR

December 16, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas

Once again, I was caught unawares by the House, as it approved a $636 billion Defense Spending Bill this afternoon. The text of the legislation wasn’t posted online until sometime after 10 p.m. last night, and while we’ve been expecting action on it for the past few weeks, it still came as a surprise. For starters, while many had expected the legislation would be used as a vehicle to move some non-germane items (such as an extension of unemployment benefits and a new ceiling for the national debt), members of the House opted to kick the problems down the road. For example, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation that is set to expire at the end of the year was extended through the end of February. As for the debt ceiling, the House bill would raise it from $12.1 billion to $12.4 billion, enough to get lawmakers through March.

What’s perhaps most interesting about the bill is not what was added, but what was put back in: billions of dollars for defense systems and programs the Pentagon didn’t want. President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates had something of a political victory this year by convincing Congress to stop building additional F-22 fighters. And while the F-22 isn’t being reincarnated, several other systems that Obama and Gates wanted cut from the original defense bill have found their way back in:

  • $465 million for an F-35 alternate engine

  • $100 million for additional work on the canceled VH-17 presidential helicopter

  • $2.5 billion for 10 additional C-17s cargo aircraft

  • $750 million for 9 additional F/A-18E/F tactical jets

The most transparent aspect of this bill, in fact, had been in the earmarking process. Due to new rules, all House members had to submit their earmark requests way back in April. You can find a table of those earmarks on this PDF. I haven’t seen any reports of additional earmarks in the House-approved spending bill, but the final list for 2010 is here.

The other action today was on a third continuing resolution, this one for just a week. With funding for the Defense Department set to run out on December 18 (when the second CR expires), another interim measure was required. The Senate will likely continue with legislative business through the weekend, and this CR will continue Defense Department funding through Dec. 23.

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  • craines 12/16/2009 6:04pm

    Thanks to Harry Reid a lot of people can keep the heat on and eat
    and pay the rent. I cant believe that anyone up on the hill would let peoples
    unemployment run out in the dead of winter. Thank You Mr Reid for looking out for us.


  • Capinshea 12/16/2009 8:09pm
    The Emergency Unemployment Compensation that was just extended to the end of February 2010, Does that include extension of TIER I? My husband’s Regular Unemployment of 26 weeks ends December 26th. The deadline for being eligible for TIER I is by December 19th. Was that extended also, or are we going to be without Unemployment after our last check, December 26th?


  • Comm_reply
    Avelino_Maestas 12/17/2009 1:31am

    OpenCongress Staff


    In my quick reading of the pertinent sections, I don’t see an extension of the Tier 1 eligibility period, but I could be reading it wrong. In every instance where “December 31, 2009” is a deadline, this bill would make that deadline “February 28, 2010.” I see no reference to December 19.

    You can see the section I’m referring to beginning on pg 151 of the bill text PDF I linked in the post above.

  • Comm_reply
    POOKIEBUNNY 12/19/2009 9:48am

    I live in Florida. The last time I can claim UEC is on 1/26/2010. This was my first weeks and All funds will be exdhasted. Will my benefits be extended with the passing of this bill? This will be my first extention. I don’t understand how the teir works and the UEC workers in Fl as not well informed on most issues.

  • craines 12/17/2009 1:32am

    I believe this would apply to tiers I thru IV, there should be some kind of
    information on this starting to be posted on all the state EUC websites in the next couple of days.


  • Capinshea 12/17/2009 6:50am

    I am from Massachusetts, and when I spoke to a Rep. from Unemployment, (before this bill was passed to extend deadline to end of February), she said my husband would have to exhaust his regular 26wk claim before December 19th to be eligible for Tier I of Federal Extension. Does that sound correct? He would exhaust by December 26th, she said he would not be eligible for any Federal Extension. So, my question is, does this new bill help thoughs, like my husband ,who will be exhausting their regular claim before the end of December? I did read the section beginning on pg 151, I’m just confused.


  • johndoe643 12/17/2009 9:24am

    Was there a part seniors? I throught that included a Cost Of Living type stimulus check in the bill or just a rumor? When will they bring up the cost of the new surge?

  • BenjaWiz 12/17/2009 8:48pm

    Johndoe643, Great point we need to get the bill and a vote to the house and senate for another $250 check to people who didn’t receive the Social Security (COLA) after all 8 years of BUSH the rich made out like bandits with tax breaks while we sat on the sidelines with our mouth open.

  • BenjaWiz 12/17/2009 8:51pm

    And after the Social Security $250 check we need to stop spending and use money already floating around to create jobs.

  • Robbieshea 12/18/2009 8:51pm

    I think the helicopter is VH-71 project. Not VH-17. I just googled it though. Read that the aging fleet of 19 presidential helicopters needs to be renavated. So they are planning to build 23 new ones. I feel the need to let the people know that the US Coast Guard still makes way to protect our waters with cutters that served in WW2.

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