It's bad enough that the Pentagon has crammed an $80 billion bill, supposedly meant to cover last-minute contigencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, with all kinds of military pork.Now, "senators [have] seized a chance to pack pet projects into an unstoppable bill, adding provisions dealing with oil drilling, forest services, a new baseball stadium for Washington and economic assistance to Palestinians," the Times reports.
Senator Thad Cochran, the Mississippi Republican who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the draft "a straightforward bill" that "meets the needs of our fighting forces overseas" and "addresses emergency requirements here at home."His own addition to the spending bill was a measure giving Mississippi control of the mineral rights and the ability to permit certain drilling below the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Gulf of Mexico. Some environmental groups have opposed the measure.In a statement, Mr. Cochran said that the provision "removes the cloud of confusion over who owns the mineral rights to the Mississippi barrier islands" while "allowing the National Park Service to continue its good work in preserving the natural and historic features of the Gulf Island National Seashore."Democrats charged Republicans with using emergency supplemental bills to circumvent the budget debate. "The White House has turned on its head the definition of an emergency supplemental appropriation," Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, said. "This is not truth in budgeting. Tactics like this hide the real costs of the war."