House Defeats Iraq War Funding 149-141-132; Pelosi Votes No

Ultimately, the Congress will ultimately pass legislation funding the war
through the middle of next year, but Thursday's vote set an important
precedent.

The House leadership put forward three amendments to HR 2642 (Military
Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of
2008). The first was a slightly modified version of the President's
supplemental war funding request. The second was a withdrawal timetable.
The third was a new GI bill of rights, funding college education for
veterans, adding other spending, and imposing a 0.5% income tax surcharge on
individuals with income above $500,000 and families making over $1,000,000.

The first of these three amendments - the war funding bill - failed because
132 Republicans voted "Present". 147 Democrats and 2 Republicans (Ron Paul
and John Duncan) voted No. 84 Democrats and 57 Republicans voted Yes. The
other two amendments passed.

The Republicans voted "Present" as a protest against the way the amendments
were brought to the floor. The House leadership bypassed the normal
committee process, which is unprecedented for legislation of this type,
according to House Republicans.

Among the 147 Democrats voting No was speaker Speaker Pelosi, who normally
votes for troop funding. The total number of "No" votes substantially
exceeded previous opposition to Iraq war funding legislation.

While this vote could easily be dismissed as a piece of political theatre, I
think it does show that public opposition to the Iraq War and antiwar
activism is having some effect. I could imagine a scenario in 2010 where
the House actually defeats or radically reduces war funding under a McCain
administration. This is based on the assumption that the Democrats will
increase their majority next year and that public opposition to the war
grows.

I'm surprised and disappointed to see the lack of focus on this legislative
debate. Within progressive circles, the focus is mostly on impeachment -
which seems like a lost cause at this late date. As for local media, the
Chronicle didn't run anything on Thursday's vote. I suspect this will
change tomorrow because they will have to cover Pelosi's trip to Baghdad
today.

For the roll call vote, see:
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2008-328
<http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2008-328&sort=district>
&sort=district.

For Democratic and Republican press conferences following the vote, see:
rtsp://video1.c-span.org/project/iraq/iraq051508_hoyer.rm and
rtsp://video1.c-span.org/project/iraq/iraq051508_reps.rm, respectively.

For AP coverage of the vote, see
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080516/ap_on_go_co/congress_iraq_funding_22;_yl
t=As1Y.mIc3Z.m5oxLtLQ.WpxX6GMA.