Politics & Policy

Clean and Clear It

As U.S.-led Coalition forces closed in on an al-Qaeda leader in Samarra on Tuesday, Harry Reid was running a special operation of his own: figuring out how to shoehorn a sop to Planned Parenthood into the bill to fund our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The all-pork menu of side dishes attached to the supplemental war-funding bill is remarkable even by the defalcatory standards of Congress: Reid is working to lard the legislation with a measure to help Planned Parenthood buy prescription drugs at a discount. Last week, in a now-dead provision, Republican Larry Craig joined forces with Democrat Dianne Feinstein to sneak an amnesty provision into the bill that would grant legal status to millions of illegal aliens. Democrats have sought to pack $11 billion worth of new unemployment benefits into the war bill, along with extra Medicaid spending. Republicans have joined in, seeking money for NASA, bridges, health-care research, competitiveness research, the Mississippi coastline, drug-trafficking enforcement, and foreign aid. One addendum would have Congress give Louisiana $3.1 billion to help the state “match” previous federal contributions.

What has any of that to do with American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq? Nothing.

And what’s worse than all these provisions that have nothing to do with the war? The ones that do. Democrats are attempting to use the war-funding bill as a Trojan Horse to introduce measures that will cripple the administration’s ability to conduct military operations. Among the items under consideration are new restrictions that would prevent the U.S. from building bases in Iraq, place unrealistic 210-day limits on Marine deployments (and 12-month limits on other troops), force the CIA to adhere to Army Field Manual rules for interrogations, and undermine an important troop-retention program.

The bill is heavy with veto bait. And, thanks to Senator Reid’s lacksidasical management, even this flawed piece of legislation will probably not be sent to the president until after Memorial Day — meaning that we’ll be honoring our veterans while leaving our active-duty troops in the lurch.

We should be able to fund our troops in the field without paying billions of dollars in ransom to Congress’s pet projects. If the Democrats (along with fellow-traveling Republicans) really want to end the war, they could have done that months ago: Simply announce that there will be no more funding for Iraq, and stand in the coming election on that issue. Harry Reid should send the president a war-funding bill that actually funds the war — as opposed to one that funds domestic pressure groups — and should do so before Memorial Day. If he wants to have a legislative fight over Planned Parenthood, there’s a time for that. This isn’t it.

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