- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

What a shame it is that all of the "grave" concerns expressed by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle recently over what the White House knew last summer about future terrorist attacks don't extend to the important congressional role in appropriating the funds to fight the war against terrorism and protect the homeland from future murderous assaults.
Back in March, President Bush requested $27.1 billion to supplement spending for fiscal 2002, which began three weeks after the terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon. In an earlier post-attack supplemental bill, Congress had appropriated $40 billion. Mr. Bush's $27.1 billion March request included $14 billion in additional military spending, $5.5 billion for New York City, $5.3 billion for homeland security and $1.6 billion for U.S. allies in the anti-terrorist campaign. The House responded last month with a supplemental spending bill estimated to cost $28.8 billion.
Compared to what is emerging from the Senate, which for the first time in decades has failed to pass a budget resolution this year, the House supplemental bill represented a modicum of restraint. Two days before the House approved $28.8 billion the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 29-0 to spend $31 billion. (Alas, pork is bipartisan.)
It was bad enough that the House version, passed while Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was touring Africa in pursuit of economic development initiatives, included a protectionist textile import provision that would have required African trading partners to use knit and woven fabrics dyed in the United States in order to qualify for duty-free treatment. But the Senate version goes beyond the pale. It includes so-called "emergency" spending monstrosities like the $2 million allocated to the Smithsonian Institution to transfer thousands and thousands of jars of bugs, frogs and other animal specimens to Maryland. Another $2.5 million is earmarked to map coral reefs in Hawaii, home of Sen. Daniel Inouye, a powerful member of the Appropriations Committee. Another $16 million would go to New England fishermen, whose relationship to September 11 is not immediately apparent. Veterans will receive more than $1 billion in medical care and other benefits that are not related to the war on terrorism.
When the House passed its bill on May 24, Mr. Bush warned the Senate to refrain from engaging in its expected spending binge. "I expect the Senate to only spend on what is necessary to fight the war and for our immediate emergency needs," the president exhorted the bipartisan spendthrifts. "With our nation now at war, now is not the time for unnecessary spending on lower priority items." Clearly, Mr. Daschle and his irresponsible colleagues in the Senate will not even begin to get the president's message until Mr. Bush backs up his rhetoric with his veto pen.


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