Reid Predicts a Second Supplemental

Posted June 24, 2008 at 6:51pm

House and Senate Democratic leaders plan to push another domestically focused supplemental spending bill next month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday.

“We’re going to come back at a later time and do other things that are extremely important in another supplemental,” Reid said. He added later, “We’ll take that up next work period, when we get back” from the July Fourth recess.

Using the recent flooding in the Midwest as their hook, Reid indicated that Democrats will likely seek much of the $10 billion in domestic spending that the Senate included on the Iraq War supplemental but was deleted in negotiations between the House and the White House. The Senate is expected to clear the Iraq spending bill on Thursday.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said the emphasis of the next supplemental — which she dubbed “economic stimulus” — would be on “investments in America as opposed to spending on the war.”

President Bush is unlikely to sign such a bill, even if it includes funding for Midwestern states hit by flooding and tornadoes. The Iraq supplemental includes $2.6 billion for those areas.

But the second supplemental serves as a powerful bargaining tool for Reid, who needed to persuade many Senate Democrats to back off their plans to reattach their spending items to the war supplemental this week. Democratic leaders felt the domestic money was worth jettisoning in order to get Bush’s signature on a supplemental that includes two top Democratic policy priorities — new educational benefits for GIs returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits.

“Given the fact that we got the GI bill included in this package, it’s a definite improvement,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who nonetheless bemoaned the fact that local law enforcement grants were scrapped in the compromise with the White House.

Many Senate Democrats felt burned by House Democratic leaders, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), who cut out the bulk of the Senate’s domestic funding.

“I’m extremely disappointed that Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Obey basically dropped the ball on levee funding,” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said.