H.R. 2346, provided supplemental fiscal year 2009 funds. Those supplemental funds, among other things, supported additional military needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure also included five billion dollars for the International Monetary, funding for the “Cash For Clunkers program” that allowed Americans to trade in older gas guzzling care new high efficiency ones, and money to help state and local governments deal with the swine flu pandemic and to fund global efforts to track and contain its spread. This was a vote on passage of H.R. 2346.
Rep. Obey (D-WI), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was leading the support for the bill. His entire statement in support of the bill was: “we have a new President who has inherited a war he is trying to end. This bill tries to help him do that. We have no real alternative but to support it.” Rep. Lowey (D-NY), who also supported passage, argued that “(T)he Obama administration's policy to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is critical to prevent the region from being a base for terrorist plots against the United States and our allies. H.R. 2346 provides $3.8 billion for economic security initiatives in the region and funds our diplomatic development personnel and their security.”
A number of Democrats did not support H.R. 2346. These Members opposed the continuation of the U.S. military presence in Iraq, and their opposition was based on the fact that H.R. 2346 contained funding that was required to continue that presence. However, none of these Members spoke against the bill.
Rep. Lewis (R-CA), who was managing the bill for the Republicans, expressed his concern that the Democratic majority was not allowing amendments to be offered. He also objected to that fact that “(H)ouse Members were initially led to believe that this legislation would be kept at the President's original level of $84 billion to fund only the critical needs of the global war on terrorism. As presented today, however, this legislation has grown to $96.7 billion . . . .”
Lewis also focused on funds to deal with the detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison, the scheduled closing of which had become a very controversial issue. Lewis argued that the absence of funding in the bill for dealing with those detainees after the prison is closed “is the clearest indication to date that the Obama administration still has no plausible plan to deal with this complex national security issue. He said: (T)he President owes it to the American people and this Congress to provide a detailed plan for the potential relocation of detainees prior to any funds being appropriated for this purpose and prior to any detainees being transferred to our shores. As presently written, the legislation does absolutely nothing to prevent the release of detainees from Guantanamo into the United States, into our neighborhoods and communities, after October 1 of this year.
The legislation passed by a vote of 226-202. Two hundred and twenty-one Democrats and five Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and seventy Republicans and thirty-two Democrats, including several of the most progressive Members, voted “nay”. As a result, the House passed and sent to the Senate the measure providing supplemental fiscal year 2009 funds.