House Republicans Collapse on Iraq

by: Matt Stoller

Thu May 15, 2008 at 17:47

Today, about 100 House Republicans refused to vote for more war funding, voting 'present'.  They are trying to hand off the war to the Democrats, but even Democrats were able to increase their 'no' vote number on funding from 141 to 149; the bill failed.  In a separate bill, Republicans also voted against timelines, for torture, and accountability for military contractors, including various elements of a Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.  This bill passed with 227 votes; last year, it passed with only 218 votes, for a gain of 9.  

Finally the GI bill passed with overwhelming margin of 256 votes in the House, including 32 Republicans.  It included a war surtax of one half of one percent on people making over $500k a year to pay for the GI bill, at the behest of Blue Dogs.  This might actually be the most remarkable piece of the votes today; conservative Democrats agreeing to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for educational benefits for veterans.  Bill Foster and Don Cazayoux both voted well on the new GI Bill and on the Responsible Plan bill with timelines, but were 'yes' votes on war funding.  So yes, they are conservative, and I expect Childers to be conservative as well.  Still, the MS-01, the IL-14 special election result, and the LA-06 special election result - all red seats picked off by Democrats - are devastating Republican discipline in the House.  

This war is going to end because it is politically unsustainable.  The Senate is going to add the funding back in and the House will make sure the money goes to the war, but recognize how big a deal this is.  The Republicans in the House and the Senate are going to utterly collapse this fall, and Democrats will have a mandate to end the war.  It's something Obama has promised to do, and now the political logic there is undeniable.  The question is whether there will be residual troops in the country, and that is where we can have an impact.

An end to this war means no more troops in Iraq.  The Republicans are going to face, as Tom Matzzie said, extinction, because they kept the war going.

Matt Stoller :: House Republicans Collapse on Iraq

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They seem to want to be destroyed this fall (4.00 / 1)
Amazing, after the last three special election defeats, that these Republicans STILL don't understand what's going on here, and decide to play games with the funding AND vote against expanded veterans' benefits.

I wrote a diary at Raising Kaine analyzing these votes from a Virginia perspective, and none -- NONE -- of the Virginia Republicans with competitive races on their hands, e.g. in the 11th, 2nd, and 5th, voted smartly on ANY of these votes. Only Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman, in the 4th (which, on demographics alone, is also potentially competitive this fall) and 1st, respectively, voted FOR funding, but both also voted against a timeline and against the expansion of benefits. Now, I'm sure they can try and sell it as being against the tax increase to pay for the benefits, but that dog won't hunt.

There were some interesting conversions on the GI bill vote, conversions you would not have seen without the result in Mississippi. People like Chris Smith, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Fred Upton, Jeff Fortenberry, Steve Buyer, and Charles Dent seem acutely aware that the map is indeed expanding, and they had best start muddying the waters on their Bush rubber-stampism.

It's gonna be an electoral bloodbath in November.

Get ready for some good ol' Dem intraparty conflict (4.00 / 1)
Obama is going to win the Presidency and Democrats will win large majorities in the House and Senate. Demand for the Republican brand has cratered. Republicans will mostly be removed from power after the 2008 election. They will have a narrow filibuster threat in the Senate and that's about it.

The last two times the Dem party ejoyed nearly complete power were in 1976 and 1992. Both times, the President and the Congress couldn't get along very well with one another. The old Dem bulls have waited 15 years for a shot at a large, working majority. Obama is supposedly a great listener, and he'll need to be.

On a personal note, Matt, I was horrified to see what you'd gone through with the injury to your eye. I hope you're recovering well and that you'll be blessed with safer days in the future!


If the Blue Dogs push (0.00 / 0)
war taxes linked to vet benefits, I think we'll be able to get along.

[ Parent ]
Blame the Republicans? (4.00 / 1)
It's true that the Republicans have voted against a withdrawal timeline, and the majority of Democrats in the House voted against war funding, but isn't it ultimately the Democratic leadership that is pushing the war funding, and will pass it?

It's the Democrats who have put together a $163 billion war-funding package. Sure, they have a separate vote on withdrawal, but everyone knows that this language will eventually be deleted. The end result will be that Democrats will help provide $163 billion to fund the war.

If they were really against the war, they wouldn't be providing funding past the end of the fiscal year (September 30), till March 2009. If the voters are going to repudiate the war in November, and elect Democrats, why don't the Democrats hold off further funding of the war so that they can use the voters' mandate to reduce continued war funding come November? I don't get it. They can hold off further funding of the war beyond the fiscal year until after the voters have spoken.

Instead, they are afraid that big scary George Bush is going to say they're against the troops if they don't provide more funding before the November election. That kind of stand isn't going to lose them votes; it's going to gain them the votes of the 65 percent of Americans who want all U.S. troops withdrawn within one year (April Rasmussen poll) and the 63 percent who think the war should never have been launched. This vote looks like the Democrats are showing more spine, but it's ultimately more caving in.

That doesn't inspire confidence that they will end the war quickly and completely. It just doesn't. It's actually a sign that they take the antiwar sentiments of the American people for granted, and will not really fight. By funding the war through March 2009, they are taking the issue off the table.      

Aye (4.00 / 2)
They are a bunch of cowards. I think a lot of us here would have liked to see a more serious fight to defund, though the fact is the votes for it probably don't exist among the Democrats, even if the leadership was pushing for it. Or at least they didn't when we first took the majority.

In the end though, the Responsible Plan and the building of a consensus around ending the war is still doing important work. Seeing the Republicans collapse in the face of that is a good sign.

It's fine to criticize them for not doing this sooner, but they are now building a real political consensus and a mandate around ending the war in 2009. And this consensus contains moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats, giving it a real shot of ending things properly.  

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

[ Parent ]

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