What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Curbing Presidential Power : H.R. 1591 "Emergency" supplemental appropriations for the ongoing war in Iraq/On passage
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H.R. 1591 "Emergency" supplemental appropriations for the ongoing war in Iraq/On passage
house Roll Call 186     Mar 23, 2007
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote represented the first time either chamber of Congress voted to set a timeline for pulling U.S. troops out of the ongoing war in Iraq. It was a nail-biter until the end, as more than a dozen Democrats refused to vote for a measure that would continue to fund the war at least until 2008, and it wasn't clear whether the Democratic leadership would be able to find a majority. The seventh "emergency" spending bill to make its way through Congress during President Bush's term, the bill would send another $124.3 billion towards the Iraq war effort while taking the first steps toward ending the 4-year-old conflict. Another, more massive supplemental spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected in the fall. ("Emergency" supplemental appropriations bills are so named because they are handled outside of the regular annual Congressional processes that fund the activities of the U.S. government.) A group of progressives calling themselves the "Out of Iraq" caucus had attempted to offer an amendment that would have limited the use of funds in the supplemental to only protecting soldiers on the ground and the "safe and complete withdrawal" of all troops by the end of 2007 instead of agreeing to fund the war through the end of 2008. But the proposed amendment -- offered by California Democratic Reps. Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters -- was rejected by the Democratic-controlled Rules Committee, thus preventing it from coming to a vote on the floor. The bill contains a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops beginning in 2008, a move opposed almost uniformly within the Republican Party. Bush promised to veto the measure if it is sent to his desk. The Democratic leadership described the bill as a significant effort towards ending the war, even as critics within the party decried the measure for sending more money to a war they believe is already lost. Woolsey, one of the 14 Democrats to vote against the measure, said that the language in the bill meant to reign in Bush's conduct of the war had no enforceability and was thus meaningless. Knowing Bush's veto awaited, the debate within the Democratic Party became one of tactics. The Democratic leadership asserted that voting to give Bush additional funding for the war, with restrictions and a timetable with withdrawal, was the best way to solidify the opposition to the war in a way that could win majority support. Others, including many in the "Out of Iraq" caucus, stated that another year of a failed war was unacceptable. By contrast, the majority of the Republicans in Congress support Bush's planned troop surge as a tactic to gain control over the country's growing insurgency. "Rather than sending more troops into the chaos that is the Iraqi civil war, we must be focused on bringing the war to an end," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. "The American people do not support a war without end and neither should this Congress." Republicans also blasted what they deemed "pork-barrel" projects aimed at sweetening the bill for undecided Democrats. The supplemental included billions for programs unrelated to the war effort, including monies for shrimpers, spinach growers and peanut farmers. In the end, the House voted 218-212 to pass the supplemental appropriations bill and continue funding the war, but with a specific timeline to begin redeployment of American troops. Any measure containing a withdrawal timeline awaited a threatened veto by Bush, which would require the supplemental appropriations process to start all over again.

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