FY 2008 Defense Department budget

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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.


Authorization bill - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008


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

  • 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 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.
  • 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 billion, while President Bush had requested $463 billion. Democratic appropriators sought to reallocate the funds to increase social spending in the Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill.[2]

The House passed the bill, 397-27.

Senate passes own version

The authorization bill (H.R. 1585) was received from the House on June 4, 2007. Many amendments were considered, beginning on July 11.[3]

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.[4]

The option for a presidential waiver, however, was included in the amendment.[5]

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."[6] Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) joined with most Republicans in upholding the filibuster.[6]

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.[7]

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.[4][8]

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).[9] 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.”[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]

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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[15]

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.[15]

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.[15]

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.[16]

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.[17]

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."[18]

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

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.[19]

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. [20]

$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. [21]

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.[22]

2008 defense appropriations bill

House passes Department of Defense Appropriations Act

On August 5, 2007, the House passed the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R.3222) in a vote of 395-13. The bill would provide $459.6 billion for the Defense Department in FY 2008, 3.5 billion less than requested by President Bush and $39.7 billion more than was enacted in FY 2007. The funds provided would not be used for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as those funds would be considered in a bill in September. The bill appropriated the funding for the May authorization bill.[23]

Beyond cutting under President Bush's funding request, the bill managed the funds in new ways, many of which the White House opposed, though it offered no veto threat. One major area of deviation from the President's plan was a 3.5 percent pay raise for the troops.[24]

Bridge Funding for Iraq War

Summary (how summaries work)
Democrats initially planned to include $50 billion in funding for the Iraq war as part of the Defense spending bill, but Democratic leaders shifted the "bridge" funding to the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. The money, coupled with additional Pentagon sources, would fund normal operations in Iraq through March 2008.
Main article: Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act

Criticisms and commendations

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group committed to being an "independent voice for American taxpayers," argued that the bill was not as transparent as promised. They noted that committee and conference reports on the bill did not list the names of the sponsor and intended recipients of any earmarks, as had been promised. The group stated:

"Instead of true earmark transparency, Senators are cherry-picking their hometown earmarks to brag about to their constituents. The rest of the public is left in the dark until the committee gets around to releasing the bill and the hundreds of heretofore undisclosed earmarks. Sure, what the committee described as their earmark policy sounds fine, but it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if they don’t practice what they are preaching."[25]

Top earmarkers

Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), ranking member and chairman of the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee respectively, each secured hundreds of millions of dollars in defense earmarks. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Stevens secured $194 million while Inouye secured $203.6 million. The senators had given thousands of dollars to each other in political contributions and looked out for each others' interests in the appropriations bill, The Hill reported. Inouye contributed $10,000 from his political action committee in 2007 to Stevens.[26]

Usually majority members receive 60 percent of earmarks while the minority receives 40 percent, but Stevens and Inouye had split their earmark amounts almost equally. Although most earmark requests were trimmed as part of conference negotiations, Inouye's and Stevens’ only received small adjustments. Additionally, both senators had sponsored the most earmarks by themselves without House co-sponsors.[27]

In addition to their sole sponsorship of earmarks, Stevens sponsored a $1.6 million earmark for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Inouye sponsored three earmarks with Sen. Daniel Akaka worth $9.4 million. The bill had $9.7 billion in earmarks at the time it was signed in to law, 30% less than the previous year. Additionally there was a 19% drop in total number of projects from previous years.[28]

Main article: Earmarks


Closing Guantanamo Bay detention facility


In late June, 2007, Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) began working on an amendment that would close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The amendment would be attached to the overall defense authorization bill.[29]


In late June 2007, House defense appropriators considered adding language to the 2008 spending bill that would close Guantanamo Bay. According to Rep. Jim Moran (D-V.A), a strong opponent of the facility, the language would leave Guantanamo open "just for specific purposes, but we’re not going to keep more than 5 percent of the people there."[30]

145 lawmakers support Guantanamo closing

In late June, 2007, 145 lawmakers signed a letter to President Bush urging him to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.[31]

Amendment to hide Intelligence Budget

On August 3, President Bush signed H.R.1 into law, implementing several of the 9/11 commission's recommendations. One of the requirements added by the law was to disclose the previously classified single budget figure encompassing all 15 U.S. intelligence agencies.[32]

On August 4, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was added to H.R.3222 that would undo this added requirement, keeping the budget hidden from the public before it was ever disclosed. Issa argued in defense of the amendment, "With so many threats to our nation’s security, it makes no sense to disclose vital information to our enemies."[33]

The bill still needed Senate approval before passage, and it appeared that there would be some opposition. Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which had jurisdiction over the Sept. 11 bill, said the House move “stands in stark contrast to the bipartisan and inclusive process the House and Senate followed in enacting the 9/11 bill... We are disappointed by the House action and will work to reverse it."[34]

Articles and resources

See also


  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. Info page on H.R.1585, OpenCongress.org.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Spencer Ackerman, "Here It Is! A Handy Guide To All The Democrats' Plans To End Iraq War," TPM Cafe, July 9, 2007.
  5. Robert McElroy, " Senate Amendments to HR 1585: Defense Authorizations," TheWeekInCongress, July 13, 2007.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray, "Senate GOP Blocks Longer Leave for Troops," Washington Post, July 11, 2007.
  7. Robert McElroy, " Senate Amendments to HR 1585: Defense Authorizations," TheWeekInCongress, July 13, 2007.
  8. Robert McElroy, "Managing America: Authorizations," TheWeekInCongress July 13, 2007.
  9. Greg Sargent, "Breaking: Reid Will Force An All-Night Filibuster On Iraq," TPM Cafe, July 16, 2007.
  10. Elana Schor, "Reid threatens to file cloture on Levin-Reed," The Hill, July 16, 2007.
  11. Progressive Punch write-up on roll call vote # 249.
  12. Progressive Punch write-up on roll call vote # 250.
  13. Progressive Punch write-up on roll call vote # 251].
  14. Adam Graham-Silverman and Josh Rogin, "With Iraq Amendment Blocked, Reid Sets Defense Bill Aside for Now," CQ, July 18, 2007.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman, "Longer Leaves for Troops Blocked," The Washington Post, September 20, 2007.
  16. Jonathan Broder, "Senate Will Have So-Called Third Way on Iraq to Ponder in Lugar-Warner Amendment," CQ, July 13, 2007.
  17. Megan Scully, "Senate Panel Agrees to Disclose Earmarks in Defense Bill," The National Journal's CongressDaily, May 29, 2007.
  18. Adam Graham-Silverman. "Senate Prepares for Its Effort to Force Troop Reductions in Iraq," CQ. July 13, 2007.
  19. Walter Pincus, "Conferees Set Pentagon Budget," The Washington Post, November 7, 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. Roxana Tiron, "Defense Bill has over 2,000 earmarks," The Hill, November 9, 2007.
  23. John M. Donnelly. "House Delays War Showdown, Passes Pentagon Bill," CQ. August 5, 2007.
  24. John M. Donnelly. "House Delays War Showdown, Passes Pentagon Bill," CQ. August 5, 2007.
  25. Laura Peterson. Hiding the Bacon. Taxpayers for Common Sense. June 1, 2007.
  26. Roxana Tiron, "'Brothers' Stevens, Inouye share defense-earmark haul," The Hill, November 20, 2007.
  27. Roxana Tiron, "'Brothers' Stevens, Inouye share defense-earmark haul," The Hill, November 20, 2007.
  28. Roxana Tiron, "'Brothers' Stevens, Inouye share defense-earmark haul," The Hill, November 20, 2007.
  29. Manu Raju and Elana Schor, "Feinstein, Harkin aim to shut Guantánamo through defense authorization bill process," The Hill, June 21, 2007.
  30. Roxana Tiron, "House defense appropriators consider shutting down Gitmo," The Hill, June 22, 2007.
  31. Renee Schoof, "Congress letter to Bush: Close Guantanamo," McClatchy, June 28, 2007.
  32. John M. Donnelly. "House Quietly Moves to Reverse Disclosure of Intelligence Budget," CQ. August 6, 2007.
  33. John M. Donnelly. "House Quietly Moves to Reverse Disclosure of Intelligence Budget," CQ. August 6, 2007.
  34. John M. Donnelly. "House Quietly Moves to Reverse Disclosure of Intelligence Budget," CQ. August 6, 2007.

External resources

External articles