Senate Blocking Missile Defense
Democrats in the Senate appear ready to join the House in eliminating funding for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.
The Senate appears ready to join the House in cutting from the defence budget the millions Mr Bush requested to fund US missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. The president would have to use his veto to go ahead but that would put the whole defence budget in peril.
The Senate move would add to the lengthy list of obstacles that have built up to Mr Bush's plan. A consequence would be to end the stand-off with Moscow, which views the missile system as a threat. Speaking on Monday at the Bush family retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, reiterated his opposition to placing the missile system so close to Russia. There is also opposition within Poland and the Czech Republic.
It's exceedingly smart not to piece out the missile defense funding in a separate bill, but to cut funding within the defense budget and force the highly unlikely scenario of Bush vetoing the entire appropriation.
Missile defense doesn't work and it's completely provocative, already straining relations with another nuclear power (Russia) who views it as a threat. It's also being pushed as a direct challenge to Iran, and in fact, Bush aides in the Armed Services Committee hyped the threat of Iran in order to keep the funding in the bill, and on thos score the Democrats came up strong:
The Bush administration, in evidence to a committee hearing, argued that it would be dangerous to delay because Iran may be further forward in developing its alleged nuclear weapon programme than the rest of the world realises. But the committee's conclusion, reported in the Washington Post yesterday, said: "There is uncertainty about whether Iran will have such long-range missiles, or nuclear warheads that could work on such missiles, by 2015."
Could have been stronger, but this suggests that the Democrats won't be bullied by threats about Iran into loosening purse strings. Walter Pincus has more in the aforementioned WaPo article.
As Big Tent Democrat mentioned today, spending power is an excellent way for the Legislative branch to provide a check on the Executive or even the Fourth branch. In this case, Democrats are also being responsible by stopping a program that is increasing tensions with Russia and plainly attempting to force a confrontation with Iran. So to anyone who says that it doesn't matter who's in control of Congress, let this be exhibit A.