Congress fails to fund Army recruitment bonuses Updated: Bush pocket vetoed the bill due to a questionable provision

I received this email from a military recruiter yesterday.

I am a detailed Army recruiter. We just had a kid sign up today. He was promised a 25k bonus. However, he had to sign a piece of paper saying that since Congress has not set aside any money for bonuses for the military (the deadline was 31 Dec 07) he may not get what was promised in his contract.

I know this may sound pretty small, but we often tell people that are interested in the Army that we’re not going to promise anything that is not in the contract. By not setting aside funds for us Congress is essentially forcing the Army (and probably the other services) to figuratively put asterisks on enlistement contracts.

The recruiter scanned and emailed the following form at my request. I Photoshopped the signatures to protect both the recruiter and the recruit, who signed the form yesterday, January 10. This is what the form says.


I would like to hear from other recruiters around the country on this, in all branches of the military. My email is bryan – at – hotair – dot – com.

The military depends on bonuses and other incentives to recruit potential troops in what is a very competitive employment environment. We are at war in Afghanistan and Iraq and need to maintain high levels of recruitment to keep the Army in good shape to do its vital job. Congress is derelict in its duty, in my opinion, in leaving room for any doubt that the Army won’t be able to pay the bonuses that it has promised to recruits. Congress needs to approve these funds immediately and take care of our troops.

If Congress doesn’t approve these funds, it could reasonably be accused of trying yet one more way to stop the war via playing games with defense funding. That’s unacceptable.

Update: This is the bill that President Bush pocket vetoed.

“If we signed a contract today for a bonus, we have to be clear that, while we mention the bonus and while we plan on the bonus, we can’t guarantee it,” Carr said in a statement. “That can have a chilling impact on the propensity of a person to sign one of those contracts. That might affect their willingness to enter into a contract that conditionally promises a bonus.”

President George Bush has refused to sign the bill in its present form, saying he wants Congress to revise some of its provisions regarding Iraq.

Carr says he is optimistic that Congress will sign the act and fix what could become a potentially larger problem.

“It has happened before, and Congress in the past has always gone back and made whole any circumstances that occurred during the lapse in authority,” Carr said.

It sounds like Congress needs to fix the darn bill asap. Here’s what drove the veto.

President Bush on Friday used a “pocket veto” to reject a sweeping defense bill because he dislikes a provision that would expose the Iraqi government to expensive lawsuits seeking damages from the Saddam Hussein era…

Democratic aides said they have not ruled out any legislative options, including dropping the language on lawsuits against Iraq and sending the rest of the bill back to Bush.

The sponsor of the contested provision, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said the provision would allow “American victims of terror to hold perpetrators accountable — plain and simple.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called on lawmakers to “move rapidly to fix this section” when Congress returns in January so that the underlying bill can be signed.

Democratic congressional leaders complained that Bush’s move was a last-minute stunt because he had never indicated his intention to veto the bill.

Bush aides said they had signaled concern about the controversial provision for weeks, although there had been no formal veto threat. They said their concern grew urgent recently after a legal review and feedback from U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Iraqi leaders.

The disputed section of the bill would reshape Iraq’s immunity to lawsuits, exposing the new government to litigation in U.S. courts stemming from treatment of Americans in Iraq during Saddam’s reign. Even cases that had once been rejected could be refiled.

There’s a whole lot wrong with this. Lautenberg shouldn’t even be in the Senate; he was put on the ballot after the legal deadline when Robert Torricelli had to drop out. And isn’t it just like a liberal Democrat to put more anti-terror emphasis on the courts rather than the health of the military. That clause needs to go.

Update: Keith at A Second Hand Conjecture emails–

The sponsor of the contested provision, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said the provision would allow “American victims of terror to hold perpetrators accountable — plain and simple.”

** Isn’t this a de-facto admission that Saddam’s regime was neck deep in terrorism???

Sure looks like it.