WASHINGTON (AP) House conservatives, rejecting protests from fellow Republicans who said they were depriving troops of needed support, stripped $500 million in military projects from a veterans spending bill Friday.
Democrats in turn said GOP-backed tax cuts and a tight budget passed two days ago were behind a fiscal crisis leading to the cuts.
“I don’t know why they (the troops) should be stuck in the middle of a family squabble within the Republican Party,’’ said Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
The conservatives, led by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, used parliamentary procedures to delete some 20 projects worth $507 million from the $94 billion spending bill for military construction and veterans programs in fiscal 2007, which will begin Oct. 1. The overall bill passed 395-0
Writers of the legislation, seeking to meet limits outlined in the just-passed budget, had taken the money for the projects from a $50 billion war reserve to fund urgent projects, a move characterized by both conservatives and Democrats as a budgetary gimmick.
Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a fiscal hawk, asked how $18.1 million for a bachelor enlisted quarters at Camp Pendleton in California or $102 million for a brigade complex at Fort Lewis, Washington, could be considered emergency spending.
“The ink is not even dry on the budget and we are already attempting to violate it, and that’s simply not right,’’ said Hensarling.
The conservatives also noted the bill contained some 66 other earmarks, or projects requested by individual members, costing the same $500 million.