FOXWIRE: House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, D-Wis., Monday unveiled a bill to spend $94.2 billion to fund efforts war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, aid Afghanistan and Pakistan and pay for programs to help curb pandemic flu.
But notably absent from Obey's bill was money to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
The Obama Administration intends to close Guantanamo. But it has yet to present a plan on how to handle prisoners there.
"I personally favor what the administration is doing (on Guantanamo Bay)," Obey said. "But there is not concrete program."
Obey said he'd rather not "exert energy" on a plan that he described as "theoretical."
"When they have a concrete program, they're welcome to come back and defend that," Obey said.
Obey says the bill spends a total of $9.3 billion above President Obama's request for supplemental spending, indicating that it pays for "a budget that winds down troops in Iraq."
The package also provides $1.5 billion for aid, security and development programs in Afghanistan and $2.3 billion for similar efforts in Pakistan.
But Obey said he was skeptical of Mr. Obama's goals for settling unrest in critical places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"I am extremely dubious about the ability of the administration to advance its ends in this operation," Obey said, adding that the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan "simply don't have the instrumentality to make that policy work."
So Obey is requiring the Obama Administration to give Congress a status report on Afghanistan and Pakistan before makes another budget request next year.
Among the benchmarks, Obey is asking for the administration to update Congress on the status of political and security progress in the region, the level of political corruption, details on how security forces are responding to counterinsurgents, a report on whether regional intelligence services are cooperating with the United States and whether those countries are curbing terror within their borders.
"This is the guts of the bill as far as I'm concerned," Obey said of the status report request. He indicated that the findings of that report would not serve as "conditions" for an additional funding request.
"I would hope it would be a fish or cut bait report," Obey said.
Obey also indicated that when he came to Congress in 1969, he opposed the Vietnam War. But President Nixon said that he inherited the war and wanted time to let his policies work.
"If I gave Richard Nixon a year, I can give Barack Obama a year," Obey said.
But Obey hinted that he thought the situation in Pakistan could be beyond repair.
"Sometimes when you make a mistake, it's so screwed up that you can't fix it. I hope that's not the case with Pakistan," he said.
While most of the money is devoted to military operations, some $2 billion of the bill goes toward fighting pandemic flu, $500 million more than the president asked for.
"Whatever we do, we still will not be fully prepared to deal with new manifestations of flu around the world," Obey added.