Senate Approves Military Construction-VA Spending Measure

Rejection of the Inhofe amendment comes after the Obama administration announced last week it will prosecute five individuals charged with committing the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in federal court in New York.

The Senate also approved, 98-1, an amendment offered by Senate Military Construction-VA Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., that would add $50 million to Veterans Affairs Department funding to renovate empty buildings to provide housing and services to homeless vets.

The amendment is offset by cutting $50 million from the Defense Department's Homeowners Assistance Program, which the Pentagon has determined is not currently required, Johnson said. The program helps military and federal personnel whose homes have lost value because of a base closure.

The Senate approved by unanimous consent two other amendments, including a proposal by Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye to provide $68.5 million, redirected from fiscal 2009 funds, to build an Aegis missile defense test site at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the western shores of Kaua'i, Hawaii.

The other amendment, from Senate Appropriations ranking member Thad Cochran, would allow the city of Gulfport, Miss., to develop VA property deeded to it after 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

In addition, the Senate approved by voice vote an amendment from Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., that would provide $5 million for grants to community-based organizations and state and local government entities to conduct outreach to veterans in underserved areas.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he expects the House will reject an expected GOP motion to recommit that would put language in the fiscal 2010 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations conference report prohibiting the transfer or release of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the United States, including for prosecution. Hoyer cited as precedent the fiscal 2010 Homeland Security conference report, which the House approved last month after rejecting a similar motion, 224-193. The vote came after the House initially approved, 258-163, a similar nonbinding Republican motion to instruct conferees.

Hoyer said that Democratic leaders are deciding when to name C-J-S conferees. Republicans have charged that Democrats are delaying naming conferees to protect their members from taking difficult votes.

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