The U.S. Congress continues to burnish its pro-militancy credentials. They just passed a “record” budget for the Pentagon, which included a 6 percent increase from last year, according to the AP. This huge defense bill was, apparently, barely a blip on the Congressional radar:
Such a huge bill usually would dominate the end-of-session agenda on Capitol Hill. But it went below the radar screen because attention focused on the congressional bailout of Wall Street.
According to the AP, emphasis mine:
Even before passage, lawmakers had backed away from an election-season showdown with the administration over Iraq.
…The bill, which maps $612 billion in defense spending next year, shows how lawmakers would rather go home and campaign than wage a prolonged battle in Washington with Bush over Iraq policy.
In the end, House-Senate bargainers dropped several provisions he opposed. Eliminated was language barring private interrogators from U.S. military detention facilities and giving Congress a chance to block a security pact with Iraq.
The legislation also lacks a call for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq — something Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama long has called for and Republican nominee John McCain has opposed.
The bill envisions nearly $70 billion for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and requires more information on contractors with projects in Iraq. It also paves the way for Bush’s plan to build an anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, a proposal strongly opposed by Russia.
The House approved the bill overwhelmingly on Wednesday. Bush is expected to sign the measure.
This is an authorizing bill, not an appropriations bill, which means that, for the most part, this bill does not actually provide money. This is an oversimplification, but think of an authorizing bill like a credit limit, and the appropriations bill as the actual credit card purchase. Authorization bills set policy; they generally do not actually spend the money.
That said, this is incredibly disappointing.
This is just another reminder that there is no anti-war party among the two major parties in Washington, D.C.