I received a press release from Sen. Jon Tester's office this week. In it Tester focused on what else President George Bush struck down when he vetoed the Iraq War funding bill approved by both houses of Congress.
Tester expressed disappointment in the veto because the president's signature wiped out not only $96 billion in additional war funding but also - among MANY other things - $1.8 billion for veterans' health care and $3.5 billion in agriculture disaster aid.
My question for Sen. Tester and others who voted for this bill is what happened to the idea of increasing transparency in Washington by creating legislation that does not include items totally unrelated to the main purpose of a bill.
For one thing funding for the Iraq War is far too big an issue to be watered down with other spending items no matter their worth or need.
The American people and the world deserve a separate vote on war funding so they can truly see who supports it and who doesn't.
Isn't that what transparency means? Isn't that what transparency should be all about? Allowing Americans to get a clear picture of what their representatives stand for on all issues?
It seems to be that adding other provisions and spending to the war funding bill certainly creates the impression of an effort to "buy" votes on the war issue.
There is no question about the concept of the need for additional funding for veterans' health care and economically stressed farmers and ranchers.
But that funding - and the funding for far less meaningful items added on to the war funding bill - deserves to be considered on its own merit, not attached to a bill in a perceived effort to slide it through.
So my disappointment - Sen. Tester and others - lies with the way the war funding bill was presented, not with the president's long-promised and expected veto.
And please, don't tell me that's just the way things are done in Washington. Shouldn't one of the goals be to change the way things have always been done there?
- Bill Schwanke, Piece of Mind