Senate Democratic leaders indicated Wednesday that they will likely take up and pass the Houses $183.9 billion war supplemental spending bill without inserting additional domestic spending.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) stopped short of saying there would be no amendments, but Durbin said the Congress is weary of what had become a tense, months-long dance between the House, the Senate and the White House over what domestic components to include in the measure.
Our intention is to try, if the bill turns out to be as good as I believe it will be, to try to pass it over here, Durbin said. Wed like to see the debate come to an end soon, but you cant predict whats going to happen in the Senate.
On Wednesday, House Democratic leaders struck a deal with President Bush to include new educational benefits for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and other domestic priorities. The bill also would provide more than $160 billion for the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Reid called the domestic package a pretty good deal but cautioned that he will have to confer with the 51-member Democratic caucus.
Im not a dictator over here. And Im going to meet with my Caucus and well decide what were going to do, Reid said.
He said the Senate deserves credit for the Houses breakthrough with the White House because 75 Senators voted last month for the Senates version of the bill, which included the GI educational benefits.
As a result of a bipartisan vote here, the president saw there should be changes made, Reid said.
Last week, Reid had held out the possibility that the Senate would seek to add more domestic spending to whatever the House sent over. In the first round of floor debate on the supplemental, the Senate included $10 billion more for domestic programs than the House.
While the Senate is expected to pass the supplemental next week without changes, Durbin held open the possibility that Congress would pursue another domestic spending supplemental later this year.