Supplemental funding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be voted on in the House tomorrow. From Shaunna Thomas on twitter:
Well, its official: emergency war funding vote has been scheduled tomorrow on suspension. Where's the emergency $ for us?
Notably, the bill will also come up under a :suspension of the rules." This means it will require a two-thirds majority in order to pass.
The two-thirds majority requirement means there is a chance it will be defeated, at least for tomorrow. Here is how:
Given this mix of progressive opposition to the war and conservative opposition the non-war related funding in the bill, it is possible the bill will not pass the two-thirds threshold required under a suspension of the rules.
- Votes needed to pass: The are currently.432 members of the House, with three vacancies (there might only be two vacancies--I am checking on that). This means that 289 votes are required to pas the bill if everyone votes (or 290 if there are only two vacancies, and 433 members), and 133 are required to defeat it (134 of there are only two vacancies)..
- Many, if not most, Republicans will oppose the bill: This is not an entirely "clean" war supplemental. In addition to $33.45 billion in the bill for the Department of Defense, there is $13.4 billion in funding for the Department of Veteran's Affairs, $6.2 billion for the state department, and $5.1 billion for FEMA (see detail on the bill here). Due to this spending, it is likely that most Republicans will oppose the bill (less than a dozen Republicans would oppose a "clean" war funding bill). When the Senate passed this version of the war funding bill back in late May, 26 of the 41 Republicans in that chamber opposed the bill due to the domestic spending provisions, and three Republicans did not vote. If that same ratio of Republican opposition holds in the House vote, then 113 Republicans will oppose the bill.
- A few dozen anti-war Democrats: Last year 50 Democrats who are still in the House of Representatives (Eric Massa is no longer in the house) opposed a supplemental war funding bill that contained no domestic spending. Most, but not all of these members are from the left-wing of the caucus, and opposed the funding due to their opposition to the war. However, some of the Democrats who opposed the "clean" war supplemental in May of 2009 and likely to vote for this bill. In June of 2009, under significant pressure from the White House, and after some domestic spending had been added, 19 of those 50 Democrats voted in favor of a different version of the war supplemental.
However, one word of caution for anti-war activists: don't sell this as an opportunity to your fellow activists as an opportunity to actually end the war in Afghanistan. While this version of the Afghanistan supplemental might be defeated (thus forcing the bill to be changed, and thus requiring a vote on a new bill in both chambers of Congress), it is extremely likely that supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually pass. As was demonstrated last May, there are upwards of 370 votes in the House in favor of a "clean" war supplemental bill, and there are at least 67 votes in favor of this version of the bill in the Senate.
Given this, we have to be honest: the votes are there to pass some version of a war supplemental, eventually. Those opposed to the passage of any funding for Iraq and Afghanistan altogether--a group to which I belong--might be able to keep using procedural hurdles such as the "suspensions of the rules" to keep the bill from passing before the start of the August recess on Friday, August 5th. From that point, perhaps even more procedural hurdles can cause the bill to be delayed all the way until the end of September. But it is going to pass eventually, and as such we should not mislead anti-war activists into thinking this is actually an opportunity to end the war. It isn't.
To close on a personal note, while I have become more amendable to supporting legislative incremental change over the past two years (see my support for health insurance reform and my support for financial reform), I have moved in the exact opposite direction on matters of war. I would not have supported this war funding bill no matter how much domestic stimulus spending was attached to it, because I simply cannot condone the continuation of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Real people, both military and civilian, are dying, getting wounded, or losing their homes in enormous numbers because of these wars. Our presence there is not going to result in either stable or democratic regimes in either state. Additionally, we were not attacked by either state. Further, our presence in those countries will not prevent ethnic cleansing (ethnic cleansing took place while we were in Iraq).
Because of this, I still consider opposing this supplemental--even though it will pass eventually--a worthwhile activity. It is reminiscent of the marches against the war in late 2002 and early 2003: while I knew they would not stop the war, I still felt compelled to participate to order to publicly registered dissent. If you feel the same way, call switchboard for the House of Representatives at 202-324-3121 and register your dissent on the war to your Representative. We are not in a position to end the war right now, but we will never be in a position to end the war unless we continue to register our dissent against it.