The final vote on the war supplemental in the House is expected in the next hour or so, and while it may have the 289 votes needed under suspension of the rules to pass, because Republicans are likely to support it strongly, a growing number of Democrats are expressing second thoughts. For example, Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey will vote against the measure:
Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced Tuesday he will oppose a bill providing $33 billion to fund troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Obey introduced the original version of the war funding legislation and voted for it in March, but expressed his skepticism over the progress of the Afghan war in a floor statement.
”I have a double, and conflicting, obligation. As chairman, I have the obligation to bring this supplemental before the House to allow the institution to work its will,” he said. “But I also have the obligation to my conscience to indicate — by my individual vote — my profound skepticism that this action will accomplish much more than to serve as a recruiting incentive for those who most want to do us ill.”
Five House progressives have submitted an open letter decrying the seemingly endless amount of money available for war, with no corresponding money available for teachers or domestic concerns. The letter makes the point that all the domestic money stripped from the bill was offset – fully paid for – while the $37 billion for war consists of emergency deficit spending. And with the revelations today that almost $9 billion in Iraqi reconstruction money literally cannot be accounted for, the implication here is that it makes more sense to throw money down a hole than use it to save teacher positions or summer jobs for teenagers.
The statement by Raul Grijalva, Barbara Lee, Alan Grayson, Lynn Woolsey and Dennis Kucinich (and in a late addition, Rep. Mike Honda) alludes to the Wikileaks controversy as well:
After the dramatic revelations of this week, it is clearer than ever just how daunting a task our troops face in Afghanistan. We are trying to build a modern, democratic state in an area divided by tribal and ethnic identities that has successfully resisted foreign powers for centuries. We are fighting for one side in a civil war, killing civilians, building resentment toward the United States, and making it nearly impossible to gain the popular support that could make success possible.
As multiple reports have shown, pervasive corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan siphons resources so that even worthwhile projects are doomed to fail. This is not how we want to spend borrowed money. Our people at home are facing a difficult job market, lower funding for education, and a shattered Gulf economy that needs significant attention. We need to prioritize and make the right choices, not continue as before out of inertia or a lack of urgency. We urge the president to consider how this spending really improves the lives of Americans and how it can be spent in more productive ways.
The President alluded to the Wikileaks release today as well in prepared remarks, but vowed to move ahead with his policies, and urged members of the House to fund the war. We’ll see a final vote on this today.
UPDATE: The full list of signers to that strong anti-war statement at this point:
Danny Davis, Yvette Clarke, John Conyers, Donna Edwards, Bob Filner, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Mike Honda, Dennis Kucinich, Jesse Jackson Jr., Sheila Jackson-Lee, Barbara Lee, Chellie Pingree, Jared Polis, Pete Stark, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey