Fox's Cameron distorted facts in blaming Democrats for overspending in Senate bill

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

Fox News' Carl Cameron misleadingly suggested that "Senate Democrats, along with a handful of moderate Republicans" were to blame for adding billions of dollars in spending projects to an emergency supplemental appropriations bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hurricane relief, and bird-flu preparedness.

On the May 3 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron misleadingly suggested that "Senate Democrats, along with a handful of moderate Republicans" were to blame for adding billions of dollars in spending projects to an emergency supplemental appropriations bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, hurricane relief, and bird-flu preparedness. As evidence, Cameron cited two purported examples: appropriations added in the Senate for Gulf Coast fisheries and for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region of Sudan. In fact, the fisheries provisions were added by a Republican senator, and the Darfur funding increase was offset by cuts elsewhere in the bill.

In a May 3 speech, President Bush threatened to veto the bill if it exceeded his $94.5 billion request. As Cameron noted, the Senate bill, which passed on May 4, exceeds Bush's limit by about $15 billion.

From the May 3 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume:

CAMERON: On spending, Mr. Bush renewed his threatened veto of this year's emergency supplemental funding, which he says should be limited to Iraq, Afghanistan, hurricane relief, and fighting avian flu. Senate Democrats, along with a handful of moderate Republicans, want to expand the spending to include everything from coastal fisheries to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur. The price tag is over $108 billion. And that's more than $15 billion beyond what the president is willing to sign.

BUSH [video clip]: The Congress needs to hear me loud and clear. If they spend more than 92.2 plus pandemic flu emergency funds, I will veto the bill. It is important for there to be fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C., if we want to keep this economy strong.

Contrary to Cameron's assertion, the Darfur provision did not "expand the spending" in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery but was instead revenue-neutral. The amendment, authored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), added $60 million in funding for peacekeeping in Darfur. But as the Associated Press noted on May 3, Menendez's amendment "was financed by a companion cut to funding for a huge U.S. embassy project in Baghdad." The amendment was co-sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and passed by a voice vote on May 3.

Unlike the Darfur provision, the $1.1 billion in coastal-fisheries proposals cited by Cameron were not offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the bill. But as the AP noted in an April 13 article, the fisheries provisions were authored by Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby (AL). Contrary to Cameron's suggestion that Democrats and "a handful of moderate" Republicans were behind those provisions, according to Shelby's Senate website, "Senator Shelby's legislative agenda mirrors not only his conservative values, but his commitment to freedom, family and a strong prosperous economy."

Senators from both parties -- conservative, moderate, and progressive -- have supported appropriations in the bill that Bush did not request. On April 26, 29 Senate Republicans joined Democrats in a 72-26 vote rejecting an amendment that would have "return[ed] the bill to the President's proposal." Moreover, some of the bill's most controversial spending provisions have been added by Republicans.

As Media Matters for America has noted, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) inserted a $700 million plan to move the CSX railroad line in Mississippi, despite the fact that CSX already rebuilt the line after it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) has staunchly defended the provision as a necessary "safety" precaution, but The Washington Post reported on April 18 that "[t]he real impetus appears to be economic." On April 26, the Senate voted 50-47 to table an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to eliminate the CSX funding. Twenty-nine Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (TN) and Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (KY), voted against Coburn's amendment.

Cochran also inserted a provision that would require the Navy to immediately pay defense contractor Northrop Grumman up to $500 million for "business disruption" incurred by Northrop Grumman's Ingles Shipyard as a result of Hurricane Katrina. As the AP reported on April 25, "Taxpayers would be repaid with proceeds from any insurance settlement, but there's no guarantee of that." On May 2, the Senate rejected an amendment by Coburn to eliminate the Northrop Grumman funding on a 51-48 vote. Twenty-seven Republicans voted against Coburn's amendment.

As The Washington Post noted in a May 4 article, on May 2, the Senate added "nearly $1.7 billion" in funding for Louisiana flood-control projects "without offsetting it with cuts to other programs, as Bush had urged." The amendment, which passed by a voice vote, was sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and co-sponsored by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV).

It is true that in other instances "Senate Democrats, along with a handful of moderate Republicans" have secured spending provisions not requested by Bush. As the Post reported in its May 4 article:

An amendment by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), approved 53 to 46 yesterday, would add $289 million to compensate recipients of an experimental flu vaccine, in the event of an adverse reaction. By 51 to 45, senators added $1 million for water monitoring in Hawaii, which was hit by a torrential rainstorm.

Posted In
Economy, Budget
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Carl Cameron
Show/Publication
Special Report with Brit Hume
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