Debating Afghanistan

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If you haven’t already noticed on CSPAN2, the Senate has begun debate on the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill. Typically, defense is the last of the 13 spending bills to be passed because it’s a must pass – ie, you can’t not update military funding in a time of war – and it often becomes a Christmas tree for all the pork that didn’t make it on to the other 12 bills. While there’s plenty of pork this year to complain about – as John McCain, Jim DeMint, David Vitter, Tom Coburn or Jeff Sessions remind us any given day on the floor – in recent years this spending bill has become controversial for much more political motives. It was the vehicle for many of the Democrats’ timelines for withdrawal from Iraq and this year will be home to amendments ranging from Afghanistan to North Korea to Iran.

Here’s a story from me on what to expect on Afghanistan. Also in the works amendments on Iran either relating to the newly uncovered nuclear facility or the refined petroleum sanctions; an amendment protesting President Obama’s decision to trash a missile defense system for central Europe; and an amendment from retiring Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas (he’s running for governor) to put North Korea back on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. Typically, the bill takes two weeks to work through on the floor and the most fun amendments come out of the woodworks the second week.