US Senators this weekend, with the distraction of the Wall Street bailout negotiations ongoing, quietly voted on and passed an enormous spending bill that gives an additional $488 billion dollars to the Bush Administration and the Pentagon for funding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There has been a near media blackout of the vote, Senate vote 00208 on H.R. 2638, while reporters concentrate coverage on the doomed Wall Street bailout bill and its replacements. While we have all been preoccupied with the $700 billion bailout pricetag, boggled by the dollar amount and the need to raise the national debt limit and borrow from foreign nations to fund it, this Homeland Security bill passed and contained a comparably staggering amount of tax money. The bill would give the Pentagon funding to continue the Bush wars well into the next administration.
The Pentagon is in line for a record budget. In addition to $70 billion approved this summer for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Defense Department would receive $488 billion, a 6 percent increase. The spending bill was bundled in with a bill which also offers aid to victims of
flooding in the Midwest and recent hurricanes across the Gulf Coast. The total cost of the spending legislation exceeds $630 billion.
Such a huge bill usually would dominate the end-of-session agenda on Capitol Hill. But this time it passed below the radar. Without significant notice in the mainstream media, the bill was sent to Bush's desk to be signed into law. John McCain meantime traveled quietly back out of Washington and again avoided voting on another controversial spending bill. When the roll call on final passage occurred, McCain was at his campaign headquarters in Crystal City, Va., only five miles from the Capitol. Senator Obama also failed to vote. He was in nearby Virginia.
With the election fast approaching, citizens should be aware of the 78-12 Senate votes recorded in the Congressional Record, taking this vote along with the Wall Street vote into consideration when casting votes on November 4th.