House funds Iraq war on the installment plan

Bush at Pentagon Thursday (AP)

The Democratic-controlled House voted Thursday night to pay for military operations in Iraq on an installment plan, defying President Bush's threat of a second straight veto in a fierce test of wills over the unpopular war.

The 221-205 vote was largely along party lines and sent the measure to a cool reception in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is seeking a compromise with the White House and Republicans.

Under growing political pressure from Republicans, Bush coupled his veto threat with a sign of flexibility. Visiting the Pentagon, he said he was willing to sign a military money bill that includes political and military goals for the Iraqi government.

"Time's running out, because the longer we wait the more strain we're going to put on the military," said the president, who previously had insisted on what he termed a "clean" war funding bill.

Bush and key lawmakers have expressed increased frustration with the government in Baghdad in recent weeks, and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh spent his day appealing to key senators for patience.

In a brief interview with The Associated Press, Saleh said he had sought to convey the "imperative of success against terrorism and extremism" in the Middle East.

Bush vetoed an Iraq funding bill last week, objecting to a timetable for troop withdrawal that was included as well as several billion dollars for domestic programs. After failing to override the veto, Democrats began work on a replacement measure, hoping to clear a bill the president will sign within two weeks so the flow of money to the troops is not interrupted.

That will inevitably require the party's rank and file to make additional concessions. The withdrawal timetable already has been jettisoned. But for the time being Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has decided to defy Bush before negotiating with him.

"Democrats are not going to give the president a blank check for a war without end," she said, advancing two bills for votes during the day that challenged the commander in chief's conduct of the war.

The first would have required the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq within nine months. It fell, 255-171, with almost all Republicans in opposition along with 59 Democrats. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., was among them.

"This war is a terrible tragedy and it is time to bring it to an end," said Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., the leading advocate of the withdrawal measure. "For four long, deadly years, this administration and their allies in Congress have been flat wrong about Iraq."

Republicans argued that a withdrawal would be disastrous.

"Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. How could this Congress walk away from our men and women in uniform," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.

A few hours later, the House passed legislation providing funds for the war grudgingly, in two installments. The first portion would cover costs until Aug. 1 — $42.8 billion to buy equipment and train Iraqi and Afghan security forces.

Under the bill, it would take a summertime vote by Congress to free an additional $52.8 billion, the money needed to cover costs through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.

The House also passed, by a 302-120 vote, legislation providing some $4.5 billion in emergency domestic spending, including $3.5 billion in crop and livestock disaster payments for farmers and ranchers.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the war bill was an attempt to provide accountability for a war gone wrong. He said the last four months have been the deadliest of the war for U.S. troops.

But Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the Republicans leader, argued the bill "is designed to bring failure in Iraq" which he said "means chaos in Iraq. It means genocide in Iraq."

Democratic officials, speaking privately, said Pelosi had agreed to allow the vote on the withdrawal measure in the hope that her rank-and-file would then unite behind the funding bill.

But in an increasingly complex political environment, even that measure was deemed to be dead on arrival in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow advantage and the rules give Republicans leverage to block legislation.

In a speech in January, Bush listed several goals for the Iraqis, including legislation to share oil revenue among all Iraqis, spending $10 billion on job-creating reconstruction projects, holding provincial elections, overhauling de-Baathification laws and creating a fair process for considering amendments to the constitution.

Republicans say it is unlikely Bush would sign legislation that makes war funds contingent on progress by the Iraqi government. But several key Republicans have suggested withholding Iraqi reconstruction funds if the benchmarks go unmet, and it seems likely the White House will face intense pressure to agree.

Republican lawmakers have growing increasingly restive about a war that they believe cost them their congressional majorities in last fall's elections. In a private meeting with Bush and several key administration officials at the White House, 11 moderate GOP lawmakers bluntly told Bush that the status quo was unsustainable and could mean further election losses next year.

But Pelosi and Reid face obstacles of their own.

They are determined to make sure that essential funding for the war is not cut off. At the same time, they are laboring to keep faith with their own rank-and-file, with the war-weary voters who installed them in power, and with and other groups whose overriding goal is to force the withdrawal of the U.S. combat troops.


  1. Carl Nemo

    “Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh spent his day appealing to key senators for patience.”

    Say what…?! Up until Cheney’s visit they were planning on taking a two month vacation. So Dick visits Bagdhad to engage in some mano a mano contact with the duty puppets and they now have someone pleading that we don’t mess with their carte blanche “pipeline” to the U.S. Treasury…?!

    “We the People” are paying the freight on this entire debacle that was initiated based on cooked intelligence courtesy of the Wolfowitz-Feith-Cheney rogue intelligence pipeline and evidently this was to be an endless, millennial war with the MIC’s fangs buried deeply into the U.S. Treasury’s jugular until the 12th of never!

    $500,000 million bucks will have been spent and we have absolutely nothing to show for it, neither the American people nor Iraqi citizens. When you look at clips of Bagdhad and the surrounding area it looks worse than the local city landfill, anytown USA. We’ve reduced Bagdhad and much of Iraq to a rubble heap. We might as well have taken the 500 billion bucks and taken it to our local landfills for disposal.

    Congress can’t seem to assert themselves as necessary and pull the plug on this debacle summarily and with no further discussion, but if they have to put these undisciplined, free-spending Republicans on an installment plan then so be it! If Bushco vetos this one, then they need to simply “pull the plug”. I think most “savvy” Americans get the message that this war and the Republican m.o. is nothing but a shakedown of the American taxpayer. Worse yet, it represents “debt-money” that enslaves not only present generations, but endless generations to come crippling our ability to borrow and also to take care of our infrastructure needs into the future.

    Nixon > Reagan > H.W. Bush > dubya = Financial ruin for the U.S.

    When will “we the people” wake up to this never-ending Republican sponsored, M.I. Complex feeding-agenda…?!

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. SEAL

    He/she represents whoever pays them. As long as we have private special interest money paying our polititions we will continue to have the best government corporate money can buy.

    It is sheer fantasy to think that there could be an honest government under the current system. The only way any candidate can win election is by selling themself to the corporate campaign dollars.

    The entire election system needs to be changed to provide equal opportunity to any person seeking office. That would require mandatory media time, free mail schedules, and travel expenses. There would have to be a series of legitimate debates. Preliminary elections to reduce the field to a half dozen for the final election. And I would support that one candidate would have to receive more than 50% of the total votes in order to win. Undoubtably, that would result in runoffs. Every person working on any campaign would have to be a non-paid vollunteer. A system of this type is the only way we would ever have a chance at electing an honest government. Once elected, we would have to monitor them to keep them honest and bribe free.

    The people get the government they deserve. It takes effort to have an honest government. That is why he presently have a dishonest one.

  3. April-May

    Yeah, but what about funding on a time-line — which is what the story is about?

    The story is not about lobbyists nor political campaign funding.

    And we wonder why the electorate can’t pay attention long enough to elect a representative government.

    — What was the question again?

    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  4. SEAL

    The first was allowing the Reagan Administration to do away with the restrictions that prevented consolidation of the media under corporate conglomerates. That gave them control of the information the public receives. That is the first step that every would be dictator has implimented. In order to control a country you must control the information it receives.

    The first automatically led to the second, the evolution of lobbyist control of the polititions. The same corporate conglomerates that are controlling the media provide the money for all the election campaigns. The fact of political life is that the candidate with the most money wins the election. Therefore, those candidates that agree to support what the lobbyist want is the one who gets the campaign funds and wins.

    The result is that we now have a nation ruled by a group of corporations. The polititions we elect are simply puppets doing the corporate bidding. Consequently, it makes no difference which party occupies the White House or the chambers of congress. The confrontations, such as the present war funding bills serve two purposes. A show for the public and competition for the corporate election funds.

    The funding will be provided to keep the war going under the excuse that the troops must be supported. All the posturing will serve to fool the public and serve as the stage for capturing the coporate attention as the most electable candidates which will bring the corporate campaign funds.

    The only way to save this nation is to break up the media conglomerates and eliminate the lobbyists. Everything else will follow if polititions only have to answer to the voters under a system of publicly funded elections and fair and balanced media coverage.

  5. April-May

    “We have the best government that money can buy!” — That’s Sam Clemens.

    NRA Distinguished Life Member

  6. Sandy Price

    You want to put our elections under government funded elections? Nope! I would fight that until I’m in the grave. When we had a fairly ethical Congress, the lobbyists did us all a favor and kept the competing of contracts balanced. It’s is not the lobbyists but the Congress who is screwing up the system.

    The news media sells products. They report news that increases selling products. The news follows the numbers of people who buy it. I have been looking for honest news on television and in print for 70 years and simply stop buying the papers and turn off the television. I do not want you or anyone to set any standards on how we learn what is going on and I certainly do not want the government to fund or not fund anyone running for office.

    Only the individual can judge fair and balanced. Sadly our elected officials set the standards of ethics in America and it is time the people did it.

  7. Steve Horn

    What we need, in government, is people of high integrity, who are accountable and who can be held to high ethical standards.

    We are a great nation, we deserve no less.

    It’s quite obvious that we’re not finding these folks within the two “major” parties. Who, were they to have the three traits I’ve listed, would wish to be associated with members of the two major, national parties? Not I, that’s for damn sure.

    We need, as a nation, to abandon these two parties. They’ve outlived their useful lives. It happens, and it’s not always pretty, but we need to face the reality of the situation.

    It appears that the Republican party has been taken over by relegious zealots who wish to turn this nation into a theocracy. They compound this by wishing to turn us into an imperalist theocracy, spreading our ‘way of life’ across the world, through political influence, finacial wrangling or military intervention and occupation.

    At the same time the Democratic party seems to have been taken over by cocktail party liberals, willing to opine and pontificate but unwilling or unable to take any real meaningful action.

    We deserve better and we should demand it.

    Our next real opportunitiy is 2008 – at least for national politics – we can replace the zealots and the do-nothings – we can demand real change.

    Or we can sit back. Fat, dumb and apathetic, we can do nothing. Should we, as a people, opt for doing nothing then the America I grew up in, the America of civil rights, the America of opportunity, the America of freedom, is lost, replaced by the Orwellian nightmare of an absolute state, a theocracy.

    We cannot allow that to happen.



  8. Steve Horn

    I don’t want to see one dominant party emerge, I’d much rather see four or five parties with significant numbers emerge, as this would force compromise. Compromise and negotiation by their very nature force transparency – especially when it’s across multiple parties. Wonder how the current administration got so good at keeping secrets? Simple – one dominant party – if you’re of an historical bent you need only look to the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany for examples of single party rule.

    As for a party name – how about The Bull Moose party – when TR tried to come back that was the party created around him – I’ve always been a fan of Teddy – he spoke his mind – he told the truth – he was in every way a true leader.



  9. LurkingFromTheLeft

    …I love the concept – but too sadly any more people can’t handle the truth nor seemingly wish to be told it –

    …I’ll forever see/hear Jack Nicholson saying that line in “A Few Good Men” –

    …sad to say, there are too few good people out there anymore in the political arena – paraphrase the old saying, the more I know people, the more I appreciate my dog –


  10. Steve Horn

    The truth is very simple – it requires no manipulation – it requires no fabrication – it is exactly what it appears to be.

    An honest man facing a congressional investigation has nothing to fear, nothing to conceal, nothing to obscure – he can answer every question presented with open joy – because you cannot be convicted for telling the truth.

    The problem in our government is that people are unwilling or unable to tell the truth, because it is inconvenient. Rather they opt to tell people what they think the people want to hear – and once the initial lie has been told it’s a very long, tortured path back to the truth – even if the lie was a minor directional jog –

    The pervasive attitude in DC seems to be that if you tell a lie long enough, it will become the truth – the current administration is a classic case in point. Clinton had this problem, Nixon was a poster child for it. Ron Reagan lost quite a bit of his reputation because of this issue – had JFK not been martyred no doubt his second term would proven troublesome.

    The problem with lies is that you need to have a good memory for them to be effective. The nice thing with the truth is that your memory doesn’t matter a damn –

    Toss the republicrats out of office – demand integrity from your leaders – toss ’em out if you can’t trust ’em – it may make for some chaotic first sessions in the house and senate – but it’ll only take a couple cycles for integrity to become more common in government than the incredible slop we’ve put up with for my lifetime.



  11. Sandy Price

    We might even go get the Panama Canal back. I’m heading down there sometime in June and I see what I can do.

  12. Steve Horn

    Sandy –

    If you can get me a nice Panama fedora – size 7 5/8 – I’d appreciate it!

    I almost had the opportunity to go to Panama some years ago – but that’s another story.

    Every time I think that American politics can’t be saved, that America is in an inevitable downward spiral, I re-read a biography of TR that an uncle of mine purchased for me many years ago.

    TR never gave up on this great nation of ours – so what right do I have to give up?

    He (TR) knew that leadership required dedication, constant effort, attention to detail, the ability to adapt as situations changed and a very strong will.

    He knew you couldn’t bamboozle people – that you had to lay the facts out – and let the people of the nation figure out what was best on their own.

    People with the personal strength to embrace the suggestions of others and admit to it are rare in public life.



    (oh, and a nice black grossgrain band would be lovely!)

  13. JudyB

    It won’t matter if we change the names of political parties because it would be nothing more than “Wolves in sheeps clothing”

    To get qualified candidates that won’t be beholden to personal interest groups that have given them the money to run for office, we need a complete campaign finance reform bill that will be INFORCED! Thats why it seems to me like
    all **Qualified candidates for the office of president should receive equal federal funding. This would allow all candidates an equal field in which to run..not just those with corporate financial backing and clout. No outside funds
    would be allowed and there should absolutely
    no loopholes and an equal air time and mail program should be set up and ENFORCED as well.

    **QUALIFIED CANDIDATES for federal funding would mean a determined percent of votes received in primary elections by those indivuals running..and that percentage would have to be determined by those much smarter than I am on the subject. This has always made sense to me IF it was set up properly, then monitored and ENFORCED.

  14. Steve Horn

    Judy – Qualified?

    As I understand it I need to be an American Citizen and at least – what – 35 years of age (and I need to have been born here) – for the Presidency? For the House I need to live within the congressional district which I represent – for the Senate I need to live within the state that I represent – fairly simple qualifications.

    Or are you referencing the current “qualifications” to be a “real” candidate – imposed by members of the two major parties to keep themselves in the center of power?

    There should be a national referendum on the question of “qualification” for office – the current restrictions on our electoral process are, in my opinion, damaging our republic.

    The commonly accepted notion that there are major and minor parties in American politics has come about through constitutional ignorance on the part of the citizens and conscious manipulation on the part of the politicians. Much like the rejection of term limits and the creation of career politicians. Look at the lives of the founders of this nation of ours – they came into office, they served (with honor and distinction in many cases), then they returned to their pre-political lives. This model would serve our current crop quite well.

    One qualification I may be willing to accept is that a candidate pass a polygraph test and that, if elected, they be subject to a six month polygraph schedule. I’ve worked under these conditions and found that it did not intrude upon my life one iota.



  15. Donnat

    to $500,000 per candidate and anyone who goes above that, honestly or dishonestly, is barred from running. It will get rid of the annoying commercials for a start.

  16. Steve Horn

    Donnat –

    Agreed. The current “system” seems to be more of a sales contest than a merit based process for selecting national leaders.

    Perhaps that’s why most of our “leaders” seem to have the ethics of used car salesmen.


  17. JudyB

    I have missed Doug Thompsons articles lately..I am hoping he is well and off somewhere enjoying himself but would like to know when we cn expect to hear from him again…anybody know?

  18. Sandy Price

    Judy. Doug always has a Rant on the home page. He is also working on The Campaign for our America and the Reader Rant. He has other sites that have links from the home page. One can spend the whole day just chasing him down. His photography is fantastic!