There’s drama brewing in Congress over the war supplemental recently passed by the House and the Senate. The Senate version contains a $108 billion line of credit to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is not in the House version of the bill. A conference committee will have to iron out the differences between the bills. Republicans are refusing to vote for a final supplemental that includes the IMF money, which means Democrats must scratch up enough votes from within their own party to pass the final bill. Their only problem is, they don’t have the votes.
Of the 60 Representatives who voted against the House supplemental, 51 were Democrats and most voted against the supplemental because they refused to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To pass the war funding bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House leadership, and the White House are trying to strong-arm some of the Democrats who originally voted no into switching to a yes vote for the final supplemental.
From Congressional Quarterly:
Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California, a leader of the antiwar Democrats, said the White House is threatening to withdraw support from freshmen who oppose the bill, saying “you’ll never hear from us again.”
She said the House leadership also is targeting the freshmen.
“It’s really hard for the freshmen,” she said. “Nancy’s pretty powerful.”
Another antiwar leader, Dennis J. Kucinich , D-Ohio, said most on his side are holding solid: “From what I can see, people are concerned about going home and having to explain why they voted for the war when their constituents are opposed to it, and explain why they switched if they switch.”
But Woolsey suggested that arguments by Democratic leaders that lawmakers should support Obama’s new strategy for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan may prevail. “People want to give the new president a chance on this,” she said.
What are they thinking? Congress is meant to represent their constituents, and American voters have firmly rejected the Iraq war. It was their support for anti-war candidates that played a role in the Democrats gaining a majority in Congress, and in boosting President Obama into the White House. Pelosi herself comes from a district filled with constituents who have long opposed the war in Iraq, and who question a military approach in Afghanistan.
Because there’s a chance that members of Congress will buckle under the pressure, now is the time to take action. Many of you have already responded to our calls to action by emailing and calling your representatives to tell them to vote no on the supplemental, which continues funding the war in Iraq and an overwhelmingly military approach to the war in Afghanistan. But now is the time to let your representatives know that you support their no vote, and don’t want them to back down. You can email your representative about the supplemental here, and urge them to support an exit strategy from Afghanistan here. The vote on the final supplemental bill is expected to happen next week.