Timber Payments Included in War Funding Bill

A provision to give rural counties $400 million in timber payments has been added to the Senate version of an Iraq war funding bill that could pass as soon as next week.

From the Oregonian:

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee has agreed to add $400 million for county payments to the must-pass Iraq war funding bill, giving rural communities in Oregon and beyond unexpected hope that federal aid could be delivered this year.

The decision by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., to include the funding in the $193 billion spending bill was a major achievement for Oregon lawmakers who have been scrambling to find a way to provide county payments before funding runs out in June.

"This funding could not come sooner for Oregon's rural schools and communities," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said. "I am deeply appreciative that my Senate colleagues continue to recognize the importance of keeping rural America afloat."

Having the funding attached to the Iraq funding bill is significant because it is one of the few pieces of legislation -- perhaps the only one -- that is guaranteed to pass soon. Its main purpose is to provide money to support troops and operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the larger war on terror. It could pass as soon as next week.

There are still a few challenges confronting the deal:

Even so, major barriers remain.

President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that exceeds $183.3 billion. That total includes $108.1 billion in war funds for the remainder of fiscal 2008, plus $70 billion to pay for war operations for the first half of fiscal 2009. That provision was added so that Bush and Congress don't have to confront the controversial question again until after the election.

As written, the Senate proposal totals $193 billion, nearly $10 billion more than Bush says he will allow. That total includes the county payment funds. It also is more generous than the bill written by the House, which generally adheres to Bush's outline.

White House Budget Director Jim Nussle repeated the veto threat Thursday, warning that Bush would reject either the House or Senate bill because each contains additional spending for such things are extended unemployment insurance and money for veterans.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • (Show?)

    They put timber funding in the bill to continue the war and Wyden is HAPPY??

    Does NO ONE care about this godawful catastrophe?

    And WTF does "must-pass war funding bill" mean? There's no such thing.

    I urge the Oregon delegation to reject the bait. Timber payments are important, but they're not worth the lives of Oregonians.

  • Miles (unverified)

    TJ makes a good point. If only we had a Democrat in Washington who was willing to speak the truth and criticize his fellow Democrats for continuing the charade. . . .

    However, given the political reality that this bill is going to pass in an election year, I hope Congress keeps things like the timber payments, unemployment insurance, and veterans benefits in the bill. Let Bush veto his own war funding bill because it spends "too much" on veterans and other Americans who need help. Congress will probably override his veto, and if not it will further alienate Bush and the Republicans from the mainstream.

  • LT (unverified)

    "Let Bush veto his own war funding bill because it spends "too much" on veterans and other Americans who need help. "

    Republicans played this game for years---make the other side vote up or down on something really important to ordinary folks.

    I'm glad to see that happening now.

    As I recall, when his Dad was president there was a bill which came up in 1992 to benefit laid off workers--plant closure notification or something like that. Bush didn't like it but it was an election year so there was an elaborate signing ceremony for the bill.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    "...guarunteed to pass soon...."

    What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?

    Mahatma Gandhi

  • Rose Wilde (unverified)

    TJ, I like your point, but do you live in a county affected by these cuts? (I don't know)

    I do, and the county budget hearings have been beyond painful.

    We had 20 animal lovers on Tuesday begging not to close the animal shelter. Dozens of human services supporters wearing red in support of preserving funds for mental health, homeless support, people with disabilities, prevention services, and much more.

    It was just tragic, and it doesn't stop. Last night Public Health was on the chopping block, and next Tuesday we'll try to prevent a catch and release policy of handling misdemeanors (like "just" beating up your wife). All I could say is "we shouldn't be deciding now whether to sacrifice animals or people, but asking how we got here." Rhetoric that doesn't address the current need, but who can?

    So I hear you TJ, but I also understand that we can't enact a regressive tax OR raze our remaining trees. So dude, let us have a little pork off the feds, just this one more time, eh?

    And, would somebody explain why, with ALL the money out there, we are in this situation? Please?

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    The timber counties comprised of the O&C lands are owed the timber revenues as promised when the federal government took the land. The democratic party and tree-huggers have all but shut down the cut. It is impossible to calculate the damage these actions have caused, but it can be laid at the feet of the democrats and their minions.

  • (Show?)

    Rose, No good reason at all. Bush having a money bonfire in order to commit mass arson in Iraq isn't helping, of course, which is why it's troubling to get the timber payments money as part of heaping more money on the bonfire. Also I fear that while the war funding is "must pass" to the administration, the Rs and for different reasons the Democratic congressional leadership, I think there is considerable likelihood that the timber money will come out of the ultimate bill again.

    But it's a really terrible situation you and many other people face & I can't fault Wyden (& actually I imagine Smith) for trying to help out.

  • genop (unverified)

    Rather than propose a solution, just blame the "democrats and their minions". Someone is missing the point. Divisive finger pointing is so last year. It's the dawn of a new paradigm. Deal with it. Be part of the solution, or just keep blaming others. The choice is yours.

  • (Show?)

    "TJ, I like your point, but do you live in a county affected by these cuts? (I don't know)"

    Rose, I don't, but I absolutely agree they are important and their absence is crushing. But one thing almost every county in Oregon has faced is dead young men and women, and MUCH MORE money than for timber payments lifted out of their pockets. Budget hardships affect real lives, but death is the worst case scenario. In war, senseless death is par for the course.

    The funding of this madness has to stop, and making that compromise on behalf of timber payments feels wrong to me.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    I do live in such a county, and I agree with TJ.

    Our men . . . have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of 10 up.... Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to "make them talk," and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later. . . stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses."

    Philadelphia Ledger newspaper in 1901, from its Manila [Philippines] correspondent during the US war with Spain for the control of the Philippines


    "The only place you and I disagree . . . is with regard to the bombing. You're so goddamned concerned about the civilians, and I (in contrast) don't give a damn. I don't care.". . . "I'd rather use the nuclear bomb. . . Does that bother you? I just want you to think big."

    Richard Nixon to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the Watergate tapes


    "This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.

    Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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