‘Emergency’ extras

President Bush, beating up on Democratic congressional leaders this week, implored them to step up and hand him in a clean bill another $45.9 billion for the Iraq war — and other items he tellingly chose not to emphasize. Why? Because it would show too clearly how controversial measures really get passed.

In that “emergency” supplemental spending — about $2.5 billion embedded in Bush’s fiscal 2008 extra spending request — is a whole stable full of Trojan horses that Democrats will have to ride. Not that the items are bad. It’s just they cannot be portrayed as emergencies having to do directly with the Iraq war.

After meeting with House GOP leaders, Bush urged the Democrats to “pass a clean defense appropriations bill and a war supplemental bill to fund our troops in combat.”

“I know some on the Democrat side didn’t agree with my decision to send troops in, but it seems like we ought to be able to agree that we’re going to support our troops who are in harm’s way. I know the members feel that way standing with me. I hope the leadership feels that way,” Bush said.

Using the kind of language that he does, Bush boxes in Democratic leaders more than they already are. In control of Congress since January, Democrats have not found a way to force Bush to close down the war in Iraq. House and Senate Democratic leaders fear being portrayed as not wanting to support U.S. troops. That’s not true.

Bush, dumbing down public discourse, downplays the whole package.

The request includes $375 million for the West Bank to help the always-languishing Palestinian Authority, as well as $35 million for Palestinian refugees. The legislation also includes $724 million for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur and another $70 million to support elections in southern Sudan. There is widespread bipartisan support for helping to end the genocide in Darfur.

There is also $106 million to lure North Korea to the table in the so-called Six Party talks. On top of that, there is that $500 million for Mexico and $50 million for Central American states to combat crime and drug trafficking. And adding to the tab is $350 million for emergency food aid needs and disaster assistance, mainly in Africa.

Hoyer Road Trip
Unlike House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is secretive about her political fundraising activities, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) periodically announces his fundraising swings.

Hoyer heads to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Saturday to headline the Florida Democratic Party’s Victory ’08 Dinner. With the Democratic-controlled Congress pulling low ratings, Hoyer will argue the Dems “have begun” to deliver.

On Monday, Hoyer keynotes funders for Rep. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandExpanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.). So far in the 2008 cycle, Hoyer has touched down in 18 states, traveling to 33 House districts to stump for Democrats. The trips and other fundraising efforts yielded $1.3 million for candidates and $2 million for the DCCC. Hoyer’s political war chests have provided more than $661,000 for contenders.

Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. E-mail: lsweet3022@aol.com