FY 2008 Defense Department authorization

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This page is part of Congresspedia’s coverage of Congress and the Iraq War
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Summary (how summaries work)

The FY 2008 Defense Department budget is comprised of two separate bills:

  • An authorization bill (the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 - H.R.1585) to "authorize" spending for certain programs, and
  • An appropriations bill (the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2008 - H.R.3222) to actually allocate the money.

The bills cover the government's 2008 fiscal year, from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008.

The bill passed in the House in May 2007. In the Senate, passage became more complicated as the bill became a battleground in the effort to end the Iraq War. Following the July 4th recess, several Democrats introduced amendments to the bill which sought to end (or heavily reduce) the U.S. war effort. Currently, one amendment designed to end the "troop surge" initiated in early 2007 by President Bush, introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), has been considered and filibustered. The others have yet to receive a vote.




Contents

House version

Bill summary

The version of the bill voted on by the House would:

  • Provide an additional $141 billion for Iraq, spending for NATO, funds for chemical demilitarization and National Guard and Reserve facilities, and military construction. New and renewed personnel policies, education and training, justice, pay, retired and survivor benefits and healthcare acquisition would also be provided. Provisions would cover anti-drug activities, homeland security, civilian personnel, cooperative threat reduction with Russia and matters regarding other nations.
  • Create a Defense Readiness Production Board to report to the Secretary of Defense, not only on critical readiness needs, but on how well the U.S. industrial base is capable of addressing current and future crises and other readiness needs for equipment repair, new equipment manufacturing and other areas.
  • Create the Defense Production Industry Advisory Council to scrutinize the industrial base and earmark deficiencies as well as resources and report to the Board. Congress, then, would have access to a picture of Defense’s “readiness posture and any efforts needed to rapidly fill critical readiness requirements.”
  • Provide $3.2 billion for procurement, including vehicles that withstand improvised explosive devices and other immediate military needs in Iraq and Afghanistan.[1]

The amount that House appropriators sought for non-war defense and foreign operations allocations was $459 million, while President Bush had requested $463 million. Democratic appropriators sought to reallocate the funds to increase social spending in the Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill.[2]

Amendments

On May 17, 2007, the House defeated an amendment that would have increased funding for missile defense by $764 million.[3]


Same for all scorecards:

Scored vote

Scorecard: National Journal 2007 House Scorecard

Org. position: {{{Vote position 1}}}

Description:

"Increase missile defense funding by $764 million. May 17. (199-226)"

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.nationaljournal.com/voteratings/house_votes.htm)

House passes initial version on May 17

The House passed the bill, 397-27.


Senate version

The authorization bill (H.R. 1585) was received from the House on June 4, 2007. Many amendments were considered, beginning on July 11.[4]

Webb amendment to increase troop rests between Iraq deployments

On July 11, 2007, the Senate considered an amendment (formerly offered as S.2001) to the 2008 Defense authorization measure (H.R.1585) sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) which would have mandated minimum time intervals between overseas deployments of U.S. military units. Specifically, the bill would prevent the military from sending active-duty units back to Iraq before they had been home for at least as long as their last tour of duty in Iraq and reservist units would receive a rest period three times as long as their last tour. Because this would slow the number of units available for the troop surge in Iraq, it could effectively halt it by early 2008.[5]

The option for a presidential waiver, however, was included in the amendment.[6]

The amendment failed to gain the necessary 60 votes to close debate and move to a vote on the amendment itself by a vote of 56-41. Seven Republicans voted for the measure, along with every voting Democrat. One of the seven Republicans was Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who stated, "We have arrived at the crossroads of hope and reality, and we must now address the reality. We need to send a strong message from the United States Congress on behalf of the American people that the current strategy is unacceptable." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an opponent of the bill, stated, "It is a disaster in the making to allow any Congress during any war to step in and say troops can only go here and they can't go there, they have to stay home this much -- it just basically destroys the ability of commanders in the field to get the resources they need to fight and win."[7] Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) joined with most Republicans in upholding the filibuster.[7]


Hagel amendment to limit deployment

On July 12, 2007, the Senate considered a similar amendment (S.Amdt. 2032) to Webb's, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), which would have required that Army troops and units not be deployed for longer than 12 consecutive months, and Marines for no longer than 7 consecutive months. The schedules could be waived by the president in regard to a national emergency after consultation with Congress. It was also filibustered, and a cloture motion failed 52-43.[8]


Debate on Levin-Reed amendment to withdraw troops by April 2008

Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) proposed an amendment to the defense authorization bill (H.R.1585) that would start troop withdrawals 120 days after its passage, and be largely completed by April 30, 2008. In the interim, troops in Iraq would have their mission shift to training Iraq troops, fighting al-Qaeda, and protecting themselves from attack. Similar legislation had been introduced in the past, though it was vetoed by President George W. Bush.[5][9]

On July 12, 2007, the House passed a similar measure, the Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act. That bill would require that U.S. troops begin leaving Iraq within 120 days, and that the U.S. have only a "limited presence" in the country by Apr. 1, 2008.

Main article: Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act

Three votes over Dems all-night session on Iraq

On July 16, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) threatened that if Republicans filibustered the Levin-Reed amendment, he would invoke Rule 22 of the Senate rules. This allows up to 30 hours of debate if a filibuster is initiated. Democrats, he indicated, would take advantage of the full 30 hours, holding session through Tuesday (Jul. 17) night and calling numerous cloture votes. This would force Republicans to stay close to the Capitol all night, for if they lost the necessary amount of votes to block the bill, cloture would be invoked and a vote on the bill could take place (and would likely pass because it had the support of over 50 senators).[10] In justifying the move, Reid told reporters that “Blocking an up-or-down vote on Levin-Reed shows Republicans are more interested in protecting the president than our troops.”[11]

On July 17-18, Reid held an all-night debate session on the Levin amendment to withdraw troops from Iraq by April 2008. Senate Republicans had threatened to block an up-or-down vote on the amendment by voting against cloture (effectively filibustering it), so Democrats staged the all-night debate to highlight that for the public. As debate dragged on, Reid invoked a vote motion to instruct the Sergeant at Arms to compel the absent senators to return to the chamber. As the vote proceeded, more senators showed up and they voted to defeat the motion, 44-47.[12]


The second time Reid called a vote on a motion to instruct the Sergeant at Arms to compel the absent senators to return to the chamber, it passed.[13]


Later in the night Reid again called a vote on a motion to instruct the Sergeant at Arms to compel the absent senators to return the chamber. The motion passed again.[14]


Vote on Levin-Reed

The morning following the all-night session, Republicans successfully filibustered the Levin-Reed amendment, 52-47. Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) voted with Democrats in favor of cloture. Independent Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted against it, as did Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.), who did so due to Senate rules in order to be able to bring up the motion again at a later time. After the vote failed as expected, Reid responded by setting the entire Defense bill aside temporarily in an effort to force Republicans to allow a vote on Iraq war amendments, including the Levin-Reed proposal.[15]


Same for all scorecards:

Scored vote

Scorecard: National Journal 2007 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Nay

Description:

"Limit debate on a proposal to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq by April 2008. July 18. (52-47; 60 votes required to invoke cloture. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted no so that he could subsequently move to reconsider the vote.)"

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.nationaljournal.com/voteratings/senate_votes.htm)

Feingold measure to cut off funding for war

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced an amendment (S.AMDT.2057) to the 2008 Defense Department authorization bill which would require that U.S. troops begin leaving Iraq within 120 days of the bill's passage. The Feingold amendment is thus similar to the Levin-Reed amendment with regard to withdrawal. Feingold's amendment goes a step further, however, as it would also cut off funding for the war by Apr. 1, 2008, effectively forcing combat operations to cease at that point. The Levin-Reed proposal is seen as the most viable of the amendments, making the passage of Feingold's unlikely. However, given the presence of Feingold's bolder amendment, the Levin-Reed proposal would appear more moderate, and thus more palatable, by comparison.[5]

Clinton plan to revoke authorization for the war

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to the 2008 Defense Department authorization bill which would revoke the original 2002 congressional authorization for the Iraq invasion. Doing so could apply pressure on President Bush to seek a new authorization from Congress, which would likely be difficult to attain, ultimately forcing the president to wind down or end the war.[5]

Second vote on Webb amendment in September 2007

On September 19, 2007, the Webb amendment returned to the floor when it appeared that it had gained some bipartisan support since the failed cloture vote in July. The September vote was 56 to 44, quite similar to the July vote, and still not enough to break the filibuster.[16]

The amendment had received some tweaks to help address some concerns with the original. Changes included allowing service members the choice to return to battle early, as well as making exemptions for Special Ops troops, who do not follow regular rotation patterns.[16]

Even though the final tally was similar, there was some notable wavering in positions on the issue. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) was an influential voice of support for the bill in July, but changed his vote in September, stating "I agree with the principles that you've laid down in your amendment, but I regret to say that I've been convinced by those in the professional uniform that they cannot do it." Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) was a new vote in favor of the amendment, though he had not been around to vote for it in July because he was still recovering from a near-fatal brain hemorrhage he suffered in December. Democrats had hoped to win Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) over to their side, though in the end, their votes remained unchanged.[16]


Lugar-Warner amendment calling for exit strategy

On July 12, 2007, Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and John Warner (R-Va.) introduced an amendment to the Defense funding bill that would require President Bush to devise an exit strategy from Iraq within three months. It required that Bush by Oct. 16 "provide Congress with a plan for the redeployment of U.S. forces in Iraq and a change in their current combat mission to guarding Iraq’s borders, training its security forces, fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, and protecting U.S. installations." The measure recommended that Bush design plans that could be implemented by Dec. 31, 2007. The measure also called for a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the prospect's of Iraq's stability, along with a review of the intelligence findings that underpinned the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq. The provision included an "expectation" that Bush would request another authorization of force for the war when he reported to Congress regarding Iraq's status in September 2007.[17]

Earmark disclosure

In late May 2007, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) sponsored earmark disclosure language in a closed-door markup of the Senate version of the bill. The language would require committee and conference reports on the bill to list the name(s) of the sponsor and intended recipient(s) of any earmarks. Additionally, the language would require earmark information to be "provided by electronic means easily accessible by the public" at least 48 hours prior to consideration of the bill or the final conference report.[18]

Main article: U.S. federal ethics, transparency, and campaign finance legislation, 110th Congress

Osama bin Laden bounty increase

On June 13, 2007 the Senate voted 87-1 to pass an amendment to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill to double to $50 million the bounty on Osama bin Laden. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) sponsored the bill, Dorgan commenting, "Six years later, the greatest threat to our country is al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and they haven’t been brought to justice. And that’s why we introduced this amendment."

Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) cast the sole no vote.

Larry Craig (R-Idaho) supported the amendment but asked, "Does money make the difference?" continuing, "If money made the difference, Osama bin Laden would be in his grave."[19]

Senate denouncement of MoveOn.org ad

On September 21, 2007, the Senate voted 72-25 to condemn MoveOn's "General Betray Us" ad.

Main article: MoveOn and the U.S. Congress

Kennedy amendment

The Senate voted to end debate on the Kennedy amendment to create a special category of crime if it was based on the victim's race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability. The amendment subsequently passed by a voice vote.


Same for all scorecards:

Scored vote

Scorecard: American Conservative Union 2007 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Nay

Description:

"The Senate voted to stop debate and vote on an amendment establishing a special category of crime if it was based on the victim's race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability. ACU opposes efforts to criminalize thought"

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.acuratings.org/)

Scored vote

Scorecard: Americans for Democratic Action 2007 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Motion to invoke cloture on the Kennedy (D-MA) amendment to Levin (D-MI) legislation... The Kennedy amendment would make violent crimes that cause bodily harm based on the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in prison, and punishable by a life sentence if the victim dies, is kidnapped or subjected to aggravated sexual abuse. It also would create the same penalties for crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability."

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.adaction.org/pages/publications/voting-records.php)

Scored vote

Scorecard: Family Research Council 2007-2008 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Nay

Description:

"Sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), this thought crimes amendment (No. 3035) to the Department of Defense Authorization would establish federal “hate crimes” for certain violent acts based on the actual or perceived race, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation of any person."

(Original scorecard available at http://www.frcaction.org/get.cfm?i=VR08I01

Scored vote

Scorecard: National Journal 2007 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Limit debate on a measure funding the prosecution of hate crimes. September 27. (60-39; 60 votes required to invoke cloture)"

(Original scorecard available at http://www.nationaljournal.com/voteratings/senate_votes.htm

Senate-House Conference

On November 7, 2007 House and Senate negotiators approved a $459 billion version of the bill. It included only a quarter of the $196 billion President Bush sought for Iraq and Afghanistan. The remaining $146 billion for combat operations would instead be in a second bill that would also contain language about troop withdrawals.[20]

The compromise bill included $8.7 billion for the missile defense program, however $85 million was eliminated that would have paid for controversial interceptor sites in Poland and a targeting radar in the Czech Republic. Additionally, the controversial Reliable Replacement Warhead program budget was halved by House and Senate conferees. The program aimed to produce a new nuclear warhead by 2012. The funds were limited to design and cost-study activities and ensured that the next president would decide whether to seek congressional approval for the new nuclear weapon. [21]


$11.6 billion was approved to pay for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, a type of vehicle that was being rushed to Iraq to better protect U.S. troops from makeshift IED bombs. [22]

On November 8, the House adopted the conference report, by a 400-15 margin. According to a report by Taxpayers for Common Sense, more than 2,000 earmarks were contained in the measure, with a price tag close to $5 billion. A continuing resolution to fund the rest of government was also included in the conference report.[23]

Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Authorizations," TheWeekInCongress, May 17, 2007.
  2. Mike Soraghan, "House appropriators seeking to trim Bush’s non-war defense fund requests," The Hill, June 4, 2007.
  3. THOMAS page on H.AMDT.194.
  4. Info page on H.R.1585, OpenCongress.org.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Spencer Ackerman, "Here It Is! A Handy Guide To All The Democrats' Plans To End Iraq War," TPM Cafe, July 9, 2007.
  6. Robert McElroy, " Senate Amendments to HR 1585: Defense Authorizations," TheWeekInCongress, July 13, 2007.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray, "Senate GOP Blocks Longer Leave for Troops," Washington Post, July 11, 2007.
  8. Robert McElroy, " Senate Amendments to HR 1585: Defense Authorizations," TheWeekInCongress, July 13, 2007.
  9. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Authorizations," TheWeekInCongress July 13, 2007.
  10. Greg Sargent, "Breaking: Reid Will Force An All-Night Filibuster On Iraq," TPM Cafe, July 16, 2007.
  11. Elana Schor, "Reid threatens to file cloture on Levin-Reed," The Hill, July 16, 2007.
  12. Progressive Punch write-up on roll call vote # 249.
  13. Progressive Punch write-up on roll call vote # 250.
  14. Progressive Punch write-up on roll call vote # 251].
  15. Adam Graham-Silverman and Josh Rogin, "With Iraq Amendment Blocked, Reid Sets Defense Bill Aside for Now," CQ, July 18, 2007.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman, "Longer Leaves for Troops Blocked," The Washington Post, September 20, 2007.
  17. Jonathan Broder, "Senate Will Have So-Called Third Way on Iraq to Ponder in Lugar-Warner Amendment," CQ, July 13, 2007.
  18. Megan Scully, "Senate Panel Agrees to Disclose Earmarks in Defense Bill," The National Journal's CongressDaily, May 29, 2007.
  19. Adam Graham-Silverman. "Senate Prepares for Its Effort to Force Troop Reductions in Iraq," CQ. July 13, 2007.
  20. Walter Pincus, "Conferees Set Pentagon Budget," The Washington Post, November 7, 2007.
  21. Walter Pincus, "Conferees Set Pentagon Budget," The Washington Post, November 7, 2007.
  22. Walter Pincus, "Conferees Set Pentagon Budget," The Washington Post, November 7, 2007.
  23. Roxana Tiron, "Defense Bill has over 2,000 earmarks," The Hill, November 9, 2007.

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