AP source: Cochran and Wicker win $489 million to restore destroyed barrier islands

Top House and Senate Democrats reached a tentative agreement on an almost $100 billion war funding bill Monday, including a generous new line of credit for the International Monetary Fund.

At the core of the measure is President Barack Obama’s war funding request, which included $76 billion for Pentagon operations. But the IMF funding is a top priority of Obama, who pledged the $100 billion line of credit at April’s G-20 summit in London to help developing countries deal with the troubled global economy.

The actual U.S. costs for the IMF contribution are far less — $5 billion is the Congressional Budget Office estimate — since the U.S. government is given interest-bearing assets in return.

Other details of the agreement between House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., and his Senate counterpart, Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, remain sketchy. The agreement was discussed briefly during a conference call of House Democratic leaders, a senior House Democratic aide said. The aide requested anonymity because the details were not yet released.

Some $80 million sought by Obama to close the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remains out of the legislation. The Senate voted 90-6 last month to kill the money and the House never included it.

Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran emerged as a big winner since the measure will include up to $489 million sought by him and homestate GOP colleague Roger Wicker to restore barrier islands along the Mississippi Gulf Coast destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and restore ecosystems such as salt marshes to protect the coast.

The funding for that and other pet projects came despite an admonition by Obama to keep the measure free of such parochial items commonly called “earmarks.”

AP
6/2/9