RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines

GI BILL UPDATE 12 June 2008

Posted by Service Officer on June 12th, 2008

On 15 MAY, the House approved a war-funding bill H.R.2642 without any funding for the war after the Democratic leadership had stated that they would allow only 3 Amendments to be considered splitting the bill into 3 parts: War funding, policy provisions and domestic spending. The bill included provisions, which Bush announced he would veto, that would require withdrawal of troops to begin 30 days after it was signed into law and a non-binding goal of total removal in 18 months. So without the ability to propose Amendments, the funding issue failed on a 141-to-149 vote with 132 Republicans voting “present,” holding back their support to protest against domestic-spending items Democrats added to the must-pass legislation. While there’s no war funding, the legislation does contain a domestic spending package including:

 

• Money to grant 13 more weeks of unemployment insurance for workers whose insurance has run out and 13 weeks more in high unemployment states.

• A “millionaire tax surcharge” to pay for it and other programs. The surcharge would be a 1/2% tax on incomes above $1 million but, it would apply to an individual making $500,000, or a couple making $1 million).

• Utilization of the tax proceeds to cover the estimated $51 billion costs over 10 years of a 4-year Public University’s tuition plus a monthly stipend and book costs.

• A withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq to begin within 30 days with a “goal” of withdrawal within18 months.

The bill’s passage hardly settles all the issues in the Supplemental, but it would mean that the bill would start to move through the process. As is it includes $96.6 billion to fund the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September. (President requested $100 billion.) The remaining $3.4 billion is assigned to pay for military base and hospital construction, food aid and money for the Federal Bureau of the Census and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. There is an additional $66 billion for DoD to pay for the Wars from 1 OCT until a new Administration is sworn in next year. President Bush has said that he would veto the bill if it included tax increases. It is expected that the Senate will remove the War withdrawal provisions and the tax increase from the bill. Smart money on the Hill is the President will not veto the Supplemental if it includes the improved Veterans Benefits or the unemployment provisions. Only time will tell. Leaders in the House and Senate now say final action is unlikely to be completed before the Memorial Day recess. Without the extra money, Pentagon officials warn that by June the services will run out of money and be forced to cut elsewhere to cover war costs. Though once assured that Congress would finish the bill by early May, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid now believes the bill may not be completed until mid-June. Debate, however, may begin before the recess. [Source: TREA/NAUS 16 May 08 ++]

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