In his weekly radio address, Bush told Democrats that any bill cleared by Congress should not “exceed the reasonable funding levels” he requested for this fiscal year. The House is considering a Senate-passed bill that includes $165 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into the next presidency.
The White House has demanded that Congress approve a bill strictly with war funding, but the Senate measure also includes a $52 billion, 10-year measure that would pay for higher-education benefits for military veterans, an $11 billion, 13-week extension of unemployment insurance, $1 billion for low-income heating assistance and billions more for Gulf Coast reconstruction. It's unclear what bill will emerge from the House, but Democratic leaders have conceded that the price tag and domestic add-ons would need to be slashed in order to generate enough support from the conservative wing of their caucus, which is concerned about growing the budget deficit.Bush said that if Congress does not act promptly, "critical accounts at the Department of Defense will soon run dry." He added that civilian employees may face "temporary layoffs," and the Pentagon would be forced to "close down a vital program that is getting potential insurgents off the streets and into jobs." If the supplemental spending bill is not enacted after July, Bush said, the department would "no longer be able to pay our troops," including ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.