Earlier this week, the House had planned to hold a vote on the supplemental on Thursday. They were looking at three amendments: one that allocates $162 billion to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one that funds domestic programs, and a third that addresses various aspects of Iraq policy including a “goal” for withdrawal and a prohibition on permanent bases.
Now CQ is reporting that “Blue Dog” Democrats (a fiscally conservative caucus within the Democratic party) threatened to vote against bringing the supplemental to the floor, causing the leadership to delay a vote until sometime next week:
The Blue Dogs, troubled that the spending package includes enhanced education benefits for veterans not offset by other spending reductions, warned Wednesday that they may vote against the rule for debate over the measure, something no Republicans were expected to support. If the rule is not adopted, the Democratic leadership’s carefully crafted plan for adopting the overall package would collapse.
“I would think that they would have a difficult time getting a bill to the floor that creates a new entitlement,” said Allen Boyd , D-Fla., a leader of the 47-member Blue Dog Coalition.
Despite appeals by House leaders to the Blue Dogs not to oppose the plan to bring the supplemental bill to the floor on Thursday, there was no breakthrough, and House leadership aides said the measure would not reach the floor until next week.
Earlier, Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., had argued that “pay-as-you-go” rules, which require offsetting new mandatory spending, should not apply to the portion of the war supplemental covering new benefits for veterans.
“We are going to spend nearly $200 billion on the war in Iraq, and it’s not paid for. So I think it’s OK for us not to pay for the education of our troops when they come home,’’ she said.
It is interesting that the Blue Dogs are getting all bent out of shape about extra education money for veterans when the spending for the war is obviously not being offset by reductions elsewhere. While some of them have shown consistency on this by voting against the funding, many are still granting blank checks to the Bush administration.
The good news here is that we have more time to pressure swing voters to vote against the funding amendment, and to pressure the leadership to take a strong stand and not back down when Bush inevitably vetoes the bill over Iraq policy provisions and domestic spending.
You can also make your message even stronger by flooding Congress with phone calls after you send your e-mail. You can reach the congressional switchboard toll-free at 1-800-614-2803.