Say ‘No’to Peace?
President Bush expected to veto war-ending legislation
CONGRESS MADE A PEACE GESTURE by adding a binding, war-ending resolution to a military funding bill. But the razorthin, 218-212 House margin and 51-47 Senate vote are far short of what’s needed to override a certain veto by President Bush. Yet, by adding the language to a $124 billion emergency war-funding bill, it is a strong statement.
The Senate measure ends the war March 31, 2008; the House in September 2008. Both are loaded with pork. Adding to the public relations impact of both war-enders is the first Republican senator to suggest the possibility of impeaching the president because of his irresponsible Iraqi invasion.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) is a Vietnam combat veteran and strong opponent of the war and supported the war-ender.
Some say Bush is “not accountable any more, which isn’t totally true,” Hagel told Esquire magazine.
“You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might hear calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends on how this goes.”
Hagel also held out the possibility of impeachment in a TV talkie, saying:
“Any president who says, ‘I don’t care,’ or ‘I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else,’ or ‘I don’t care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed’—if a president really believes that, then there are . . . there are ways to deal with that. This is not a monarchy. There are ways to deal with it. And I hope the president understands that.”
Democrats celebrated passage of their war message, weak and futile as it was—not requiring combat troops to be immediately withdrawn until
September 2008 and having no chance of becoming law by overriding a veto with a two thirds majority.
“Proudly, this new Congress voted to bring an end to the war in Iraq and took a giant step in that direction,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The bill sent a message of solidarity to the American people and a message of support to the troops, she said. “We know [the American people] have lost faith and confidence in the president’s conduct of this war,” she said.
Rep. John Larson (DConn.), chairman of the Democratic caucus, said the bill’s passage continued the movement begun with last year’s elections that gave Democrats control of Congress.
“The American people found their voice in November,” Larson said. “The Congress found its voice today, but it would not have happened without the leadership of Speaker Pelosi.”
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) joined Hagel in voting with Democrats to end the war. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted with Republicans to continue the war. While Bush denounced the House action as “political theater,” another comment cannot be challenged: “This bill has too much pork.”
The nearly $10 billion in pork provisions had nothing to do with the war: $283 million in milk subsidies, $74 million in peanut subsidies, and $25 million in spinach subsidies.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wants to end the war but appears more concerned about preserving highway billboards. His porker would allow thousands of billboards destroyed by bad weather to be rebuilt.
Under the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, huge billboards featuring scantily clad women selling cigarettes or chewing tobacco are allowed to die of natural causes but not replaced. Ads must “conform” to specifications of modest size and groupings. Reid wants them back—as does the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. Forty billboard companies operate out of Nevada.
“This is a matter of personal importance to me,” Reid wrote to Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who is also known as the “King of Pork” because of billions of tax dollars he has won for his state over the years.
The Senate bill also includes $13 million for “ewe replacement and retention,” $24 million for sugar beet growers, $95 million for dairy production and unspecified money to help grow Christmas trees. This bill is both figuratively and literally a Christmas tree.
Not only have Democrats broken their promise to purge pork, they have ended a longstanding practice of allowing the “nonpartisan” Congressional Research Service (CRS) to reveal the size, number and background of so-called “earmarks.”
“CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, entities or individuals,” Director Daniel Mulhollan stated in a private directive.
(Issue #15, April 9, 2007)