Last night, the House voted to pass the Supplemental Appropriations bill, which designated $28.9 billion for emergency purposes. Among the projects deemed “emergency spending” were the conversion of Washington D.C.’s metro system fare vending machines to accept one dollar coins and mail service in rural Alaska. Controversial language providing trade protections for two textile states was also included in this bill. The Supplement also contained funds to make up for the President's cuts to important, ongoing government programs like Pell Grants and medical care for Veterans. In order to restore funding to those programs, the House declared they were emergency expenditures, thereby assuring that these dollars are not subject to the same federal budget spending caps. The following is a statement from Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on his vote against the Supplemental and “emergency spending.”
“While critical needs were funded as a part of the supplemental appropriations bill, it was also yet another step towards higher budget deficits, a soaring national debt, and a raid of the Social Security trust fund.
“Without a doubt, our defense and foreign affairs budgets need additional money because we have new challenges. However, the federal government cannot continue using the war on terrorism as an excuse to abandon fiscal restraint. The Administration originally requested $27.1 billion in additional funding, but that number kept going up and this package was over $30 billion. I don’t believe there was a thorough enough examination of how much money was truly needed even for these important tasks, let alone the additional non-defense related spending that was thrown into the bill.
“Furthermore, Congress did not pay for this new spending. We already know that our deficit has exploded this year, and new spending measures that aren’t paid for will only make the situation worse. Just because a program is important doesn’t mean we should break the bank for it. We need to develop a new, fiscally responsible budget that fully funds the war on terrorism and sets the stage for a strong economy.
“My concern is that Congress and the White House are acting as though fiscally responsibility no longer matters because of our new challenge in fighting terrorism. That just isn’t true. Fiscal responsibility must be a cornerstone of our economic policy, and I will continue fighting to get our budget balanced.”