Levin Vows To Add Iraq Language To Authorization Bill

Levin Vows To Add Iraq Language To Authorization Bill
May 24th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Levin Vows To Add Iraq Language To Authorization Bill

Levin Vows To Add Iraq Language To Authorization Bill
National Journal's CongressDailyAM
May 24, 2007
Senate Armed Services Chairman Levin said Wednesday he intends to push once again for language mandating timelines for removing U.S. forces from Iraq during floor debate next month on the FY08 defense authorization bill.
Levin, who had pushed to include withdrawal language in the FY07 supplemental spending bill, said the amendment would likely require the Bush administration to begin to reduce the size of the force in Iraq within 120 days after enactment of the bill.
That language, he said, would make clear that the United States does not have an "open-ended commitment" in Iraq, reiterating an argument he has used repeatedly during negotiations on the wartime supplemental spending measure.
Levin's approach differs widely from his counterpart in the House, Armed Services Chairman Skelton, who fought successfully to keep divisive language on Iraq out of his version of the authorization bill. He and many other committee Democrats feared that any withdrawal language would have brought a threat of a presidential veto.
Throughout the markup and during last week's floor debate, Skelton emphasized that his bill includes many important provisions that would address diminishing readiness rates plaguing the military's ground forces after nearly six years of repeated and extended overseas deployments.
Levin said he would not insert the language during his committee's closed-door markup of the authorization bill, which likely will conclude today. Instead, he would like to see the issue debated on the floor when the Senate takes up the bill.
Meanwhile, the full Senate committee began its markup of the authorization measure Wednesday afternoon, after a day and a half of subcommittee sessions to draft portions of the bill.
Today's committee markup could become a battleground for Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and former Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., who are on opposing sides over funding to keep alive a second engine development program for the Joint Strike Fighter.
During his subcommittee's closed-door markup, according to congressional sources, Lieberman did not include any funding for the so-called alternate engine program, which the Pentagon has tried to scrap for the last two years.
Lieberman, whose state is home to United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney unit, the primary engine manufacturer for the international fighter program, has sided with the Pentagon and called the second engine an unnecessary expense.
Defense Department officials have asserted that canceling the second engine would save $1.8 billion over the next five years.
But Warner was among those who led the charge last year to reverse the Pentagon's budget decision to cancel the second engine, built by General Electric Co. and the British firm Rolls Royce. Warner continues to assert that competition for the aircraft's engine will ultimately yield cost savings and a better final product.
"Hold your breath," Warner said Wednesday when asked about the decision on the engine. "It's not over 'til it's over."
The defense authorization bill approved by the House last week includes $480 million to continue development of the second engine for the fighter program.
By Megan Scully

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