Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror

The House on Thursday plans to consider a compromise war funding bill hammered out by the chamber’s Democratic and Republican leadership that has the support of the White House.

The agreement, which follows several weeks of wrangling both within the Democratic Caucus and between House Democratic leaders and the White House, makes it possible for the bill to be sent to President Bush before the end of the month.

“This agreement has required significant compromise by both sides,” said Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey , D-Wis., who was his party’s chief negotiator.

The White House praised the agreement.

“If this is the deal, we’re obviously very hopeful,” said White House Budget Director Jim Nussle . “It meets the president’s requirements of the troops.”

Details are still being finalized, but the heart of the deal is that the bill will include about $165 billion in funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to last the rest of this year and into June 2009; a large expansion of a veterans’ education benefit, the GI bill, that will not be offset; and a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance for all states.

According to GOP aides, the bill (HR 2642) will not include any policy restrictions on how the war funding can be spent — a key White House demand.

In addition, the supplemental is expected to postpone six Medicaid regulations that Bush had proposed. The original House version of the war funding bill had delayed seven regulations, and a separate piece of legislation (HR 5613) had received overwhelming support when the House passed it, 349-62, as a stand-alone bill in April.

The supplemental bill is also expected to include $2.65 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund, Army Corps of Engineers and Small Business Administration to address recent flooding in the Midwest, Nussle said. He added that it would provide $5.8 billion in fiscal 2009 funds for levees in Louisiana, which had been requested by the administration.

Senate Open to Moving Measure

The Senate still could present obstacles to getting the bill cleared by Congress, but early indications are that the chamber’s Democratic leadership is open to moving the agreement.

Senate Democrats have been pushing to advance a bill that would include funding for domestic priorities such as a low-income energy program and local law enforcement grants, but the White House is against this added funding. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer , D-Md., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., met late Wednesday afternoon to brief Senate Democratic leaders on the agreement.

“Early reports indicate the House will send us a supplemental that includes a GI bill, extends unemployment insurance and provides disaster relief — three important priorities we have been pushing for some time,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev. “We look forward to reviewing the House’s complete proposal, and we will take it up quickly once we receive it.”