Stopgap measure passes

Published 9:57 am Monday, September 29, 2008

By Staff
At the writing of this week's column, negotiations concerning the rescue plan of our nation's financial markets are still ongoing and have reached a tenuous point.
The principles charged with crafting the legislation have yet to come out with a plan for us to absorb, and it is too premature to speculate on what the final package will ultimately include.
While this economic plan has rightly consumed the headlines of the last several days, the complete abdication of the appropriations process by the Democratic leadership in Congress meant that Congress was forced to act last week to pass a continuing resolution, or CR, in order to prevent a shutdown of the government.
This year, Democrats have voted to make the world safe for monkeys. They have given passports a whole month - and trains even got a day - of honor. Yet, only one FY09 Appropriations bill passed the House and none passed the Senate.
Because these bills will not be enacted by Oct. 1, 2008, a CR is the only option to keep the government running.
This huge end-of-session omnibus spending bill, which passed the House last week and is pending in the Senate, will keep federal programs running into the next fiscal year.
The CR provides funding, through Mar. 6, 2009, for nine spending bills at levels provided by 2008 appropriations bills, with some exceptions.
Three separate Appropria-tions bills, Defense, Homeland Security, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs are also included in the CR.
The Military Construction-Veterans Affairs portion of the bill contains $72.9 billion in total discretionary spending for our veterans, $9 billion more than last year.
The Homeland Security Appropriations bill contains $39.98 billion in funding to protect our borders, hire an additional 2,200 border patrol agents, create detention space for an additional 1,400 illegal aliens, and hire an additional 1,273 Customs and Border Protection Officers as well as the continued construction and improvements to our nation's border security infrastructure.
The Defense Appropriations bill provides $487.7 billion in funding for our troops, national security, and military readiness, $733 million for troop facility and barracks repairs, $3.6 billion for Future Combat Systems, and $750 million for National Guard and Reserve equipment.
Unfortunately, in what has become standard procedure with this majority, the CR, which calls for more than $1 trillion in new spending, was filed after 11 p.m. the day before the vote was scheduled.
As a result, Members had less than 24 hours to review the 357 page bill before voting on it, and Members were provided no opportunity to offer amendments to the legislation.
Obviously, funding our troops, our veterans, and homeland security is vital, and we cannot shut down the federal government, particularly in a time of war; therefore, I cast my vote in favor the bill.
Jo Bonner is a member of the house of representatives.