The House Gives Thumbs-Up To Obama's War
The White House muscled through a bill yesterday in the House of Representatives that provides $106 billion dollars in supplemental funding, much of it for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also a controversial measure adding $5 billion to a line of credit for the IMF, some pandemic flu funding, a bunch of planes that the Air Force never even requested, and a Christmas tree of other proposals. The final margin was 226-202, with 32 Democrats sticking to their positions and voting no (5 Republicans voted yes). Fortunately the photo-suppression amendment was stripped out of the bill, a small but important victory (although I can't seem to gather whether or not it was stuffed into the bill regulating tobacco). There's also a major initiative in the bill called "cash for clunkers," which I want to address in a separate post.
Jane Hamsher did some amazing work getting the White House to sweat over this, and she ought to be commended for it. Rahm Emanuel really backed himself into a corner by putting the IMF funding inside the war spending bill. Democrats in tough districts got forked - support the bill and you voted for bailing out European banks, oppose it and you voted to abandon troops on the battlefield. I suppose the same could be said for Republicans, but Democrats pulling the "he voted against the troops" trick never seems to work. As for stopping the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, clearly we have about 30 votes for that in the House, which is kind of pitiful. Jane was able to do the work she did by leveraging Republican opposition.
They had to hold it open 10 extra minutes and after the Dems hit 218 and there were five GOP votes that scurried in under the wire.
We made the President of the United States himself whip to get the votes.
We tried to make the Dems fight like this when Bush was in office to stop funding the war, but they wouldn't--so we did it ourselves.
I'm very proud to have worked with every single one of you. This was going to be a rout. They had to work for it.
Let's do it again.
I wish the timeline language was in the Iraq part of the funding, since the Administration has repeatedly vowed to honor the status of forces agreement. And an endgame strategy in the incomparably difficult maze in Afghanistan would also be nice. But it's now Obama's war, and should it go awry, he'll receive a deserved amount of blame.
A nice reform for Congress, though one that would never happen, would be to end the practice of adding unrelated riders to must-pass spending bills.