I just heard about this via e-mail a few minutes ago:
An unusual coalition of antiwar Democrats and angry Republicans in the House today torpedoed a $162.5 billion proposal to continue funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into next year, eliminating, for now, the one part of the controversial bill that had seemed certain to pass.
Instead, House members voted to demand troop withdrawals from Iraq, force the Iraqi government to shoulder more war costs and greatly expand the education benefits for returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict.
The surprise on war-funding left antiwar activists on and off Capitol Hill exultant and Democratic leaders baffled. House leaders had broken the war-funding bill into three separate measures, the first to fund the wars, the second to impose strict military policy measures opposed by President Bush, and the third to fund domestic priorities, including expanded education benefits and flood control work around New Orleans.
But that legislative legerdemain became the plan’s undoing. Democratic leaders knew that many members of their caucus, who have vowed not to approve another penny for the Iraq war, would reject the supplemental appropriation for the conflicts, but they expected Republicans to push it through. [Utterly despicable. –R.G.] Instead, 131 House Republicans votedpresenton the measure, incensed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a few of her lieutenants had drafted the war bill largely in secret.
The House actions were a dream come true for the antiwar movement.
It is time now for Americans to be heard and for this Congress to move forward with the safe redeployment of our troops,exulted Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) who called on the House to use the $162.5 billion in war funds for domestic priorities.
For the first time ever, the U.S. House has now taken decisive action to bring this war to a close,declared Alan Charney, program director of the antiwar group USAction.
When the Senate takes up the bill, its version will include war funding, but prescriptions on troop withdrawals and torture will probably fall to a GOP filibuster.
I suppose what’s most likely is that the funding will be re-added in conference committee, or a new
emergency funding bill will be thrown together while the party whips are lashed extra-hard and the warhawk Republicans kiss and make up with the doughface Democratic
leadership. But there is a glimmer of hope today that there wasn’t yesterday, shining through the cracks in the both the War Party coalition (of
leadership Democrats and warhawk Republicans), and in the ruling majority. I don’t know whether this is just a stumble, or the beginning of a real fall, for the bloody-handed, doughfaced Democratic
leadership. I’m too cautious to expect a fall, but I do hold out a little hope. And when they do fall, you can expect them to fall fast and hard. Stay tuned on this one.