As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Beginning of the Iraq Withdrawal

I've been cooped up all day, but I did notice that Republicans basically stopped the war funding bill in the House. The ostensible reason is the added domestic spending, but the real reason is that they don't want to have anything to do with funding Iraq - it'll be poison for their electoral chances. So a bunch of them voted present.

Stoller has a good post on this:

Today, about 100 House Republicans refused to vote for more war funding, voting 'present'. They are trying to hand off the war to the Democrats, but even Democrats were able to increase their 'no' vote number on funding from 141 to 149; the bill failed. In a separate bill, Republicans also voted against timelines, for torture, and accountability for military contractors, including various elements of a Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. This bill passed with 227 votes; last year, it passed with only 218 votes, for a gain of 9.

Finally the GI bill passed with overwhelming margin of 256 votes in the House, including 32 Republicans. It included a war surtax of one half of one percent on people making over $500k a year to pay for the GI bill, at the behest of Blue Dogs. This might actually be the most remarkable piece of the votes today; conservative Democrats agreeing to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for educational benefits for veterans. Bill Foster and Don Cazayoux both voted well on the new GI Bill and on the Responsible Plan bill with timelines, but were 'yes' votes on war funding. So yes, they are conservative, and I expect Childers to be conservative as well. Still, the MS-01, the IL-14 special election result, and the LA-06 special election result - all red seats picked off by Democrats - are devastating Republican discipline in the House.

Republicans know that they're cooked, and it's every man for himself. Bush has lost his human shield, and Democrats ought to take advantage of this by making him veto every popular program they can think of, making him more and more hated and reflecting badly on McCain and the GOP. While war funding will probably return in the Senate (but doesn't it have to start in the House?), this is a moment of more leverage than I thought possible. The string of special election losses has demoralized House Republicans. There is now a path to ending this war if the leadership chooses to take it.

And those foolish Dems that voted for funding or against education benefits for veterans are going to be hammered over it. Here's Russ Warner already pouncing on David Dreier's vote:

David Dreier voted against a bill to increase educational opportunities for veterans today. The legislation expands the education benefits veterans receive under the GI bill to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education. It passed the House with broad bi-partisan support, 256 to 166.

"I would have voted differently on this bill," said Russ Warner, a successful small businessman and the Democratic candidate for Congress from California's 26th district. "It's important to make the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan part of an American economic recovery, just like the veterans of World War II were. They put their lives on the line for us, and deserve to be able to come home and go to school if they so choose. We need new leaders with new priorities in Washington, and that's why I'm running for Congress."

Warner added "I believe that fully equipping our soldiers, providing them with good medical care and paying them a fair wage should be considered costs of war, but David Dreier seems to believe that we don't owe our veterans anything."

The general election in the House started today, and badly for Republicans.

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