Democrats give Bush war money without strings

President Bush (AFP)Congress approved a multi-billion dollar Iraq war budget Thursday, after bowing to President George W. Bush's demands to rip out troop withdrawal timelines that prompted a previous veto.

After a day of anguished debate reflecting sharp divisions over the unpopular war, the House of Representatives voted 280-142 to fund the war through September, and the Senate concurred by 80 votes to 14.

The votes left many anti-war Democrats with a sour taste but acknowledging they lack the power to thwart Bush's war strategy, despite controlling Congress, and Republicans crowing they had beaten Democratic "surrender dates."

When Bush signs the bill, he will end, temporarily at least, a bitter constitutional tug-of-war between Congress and the White House.

Democrats nevertheless vowed to renew efforts to handcuff him over a war which has dragged on four years and killed 3,442 US troops and untold thousands of Iraqis.

"The days of blank checks and green lights for his failed policy are over," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who reluctantly backed the bill.

"Senate Democrats will never give in, never, never, never, never," Reid said, paraphrasing former wartime British prime minister Winston Churchill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and several other top Democrats, were in the unusual position of voting against a deal they had spent days negotiating with the White House.

"This is like a fig leaf, this is a token, this is a small step forward, instead we should have a giant step forward into a new direction," she said.

Top Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both voted no, reflecting anti-war fervor they face on the campaign trail.

"With my vote today, I am saying to the president that enough is enough," Obama said later in a written statement.

Clinton said in her own statement: "I believe that the President should begin a phased redeployment of our troops out of Iraq and abandon this escalation."

Another Democratic presidential hope, Senator Joseph Biden grudgingly voted to pass the bill.

The White House expressed satisfaction at the passage of what it described as a roadmap for security Iraq.

"Congress is to be congratulated for successfully providing our troops with the funding and flexibility they need to protect our country, rather than mandating arbitrary timetables for military operations," said Alex Conant, a White House spokesman.

Several times, raw angst over the war erupted onto the floor of the House.

Republican leader John Boehner dissolved in tears, as he warned America needed to take the battle to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Democrat John Murtha, a heavyweight opponent of the war, could barely contain his fury as he shouted hoarsely across the chamber: "I feel a direction change in the air."

Thursday's votes came hours after Bush forecast a bloody and difficult few months in Iraq.

"We're going to expect heavy fighting in the weeks and months" to come, Bush told a White House news conference.

"We can expect more American and Iraqi casualties," he said. At least 94 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq this month alone.

Democrats had demanded troop withdrawal timetables for months, and included them in a 124 billion dollar budget vetoed by Bush earlier this month.

But they finally conceded to political logic, unwilling to be seen as unsupportive of troops stuck in battle, knowing that they lack the two-thirds majority needed to block a presidential veto.

"It is a political reality, it is not what we want to pass," said House Majority leader Steny Hoyer.

The compromise between Democrats and the White House contains the first congressionally-imposed political and security "benchmarks" the Iraqi government must meet or risk losing economic aid.

The 18 requirements include demands for a crackdown on militias, the need to train Iraqi troops, the launch of constitutional review processes, and ensuring fair distribution of Iraq's hydrocarbon riches.

The bill requires Bush to report to Congress on Iraq in July and September.

Bush earlier predicted a torrent of violence as the top US general in Iraq, David Petraeus, prepares to report in September on progress of the surge.

He also said he would have no option but to order a withdrawal if it was demanded by the Iraqi government.


  1. geyser

    What will they do next? The Dems did what they had to. Knowing they didn’t have the support to over ride bush’s Veto. A Veto that was sure to be used if there was a Withdrawal clause included with the funding.
    The Republican’s who are as tired with the war as Seventy-Six percent of Americans are, voted for the Bill saying they are supporting the troops. Just what support is that, to keep the troops longer, a good chance of getting killed or wounded, living in horrible conditions, it doesn’t appear to be the kind of support I would want, if I were there. How would the Republican Congressmen see the support, if there? They ought to try and put themselves in a soldier’s boots and try and see the support, from their perspective.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  2. Ardie

    This is rather prophetic. It shows why Bush deserves an F for not showing up for the class on how to be a Commander Guy. It is from the Cato Institute, a libertarian Republican think tank:
    “The United States should follow up its military victory and the recognition of a new Iraqi government with a swift but orderly troop withdrawal from Iraq. As has been documented at length above, a permanent American military presence in Iraq is unnecessary. The surest way to turn a short-term military victory into a punishing and costly defeat would be to overstay our welcome. There are many indications that our welcome has already worn thin. President Bush admitted in April that the Iraqis were “not happy they’re occupied. I wouldn’t be happy if I were occupied either.” Resentment of the occupation lingers and grows. Attacks continue on both Coalition forces and Iraqis accused of collaborating with the occupation. American policy must be directed toward ensuring that this resentment does not spread. Many Iraqi citizens will allow the Coalition forces to carry forward an interim plan for stabilizing the Iraqi government, but they will not do so if they see the process as merely legitimizing a continued military occupation. That is why the Bush administration must move beyond its vague assurances—such as the president’s pledge that American forces would remain in the country “as long as is necessary, and not one day more”—by publicly renouncing calls for a long-term occupation and by committing to a formal plan for withdrawal.” — Christopher Preble, Exiting Iraq: Why the U.S. Must End the Military Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda : Report of a Special Task Force (Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2004), 66
    I guess stupid is as stupid does.
  3. jduggan620

    I think the government has solved that problem. The Federal Reserve just prints more money when it needs to fund a war. We can’t stop it unless the system blows up and hard money prevails. Then your idea would work. Have you read “The Creature from Jekyll Island”? It’s very informative about how our money system works.

  4. SEAL

    is money. Thudpucker reminds us that we can take control anytime we want simply by shutting off the flow. That’s nothing new. We have talked about it all of our lives. But it is unthinkable to actually go on strike and cut off all funds because of the necessary life and safety services the government provides for everyone. However, his suggestion for adding one more deduction has real appeal to me.

    It would certainly send a message with real impact that could not be ignored. Most important is that it could not be considered as inciting revolution. Nobody in their right mind wants to advocte a revolt, tax or otherwise, against our own government. But if we really want to force a change in the direction our nation is taking we have to show the powers that be that we have reached the point where we are prepared to enforce what they ignore from the polls – 78% this week. This they could not ignore.

    What better method than to show them that they work for us and are not performing as we ordered? WE’RE PAYING FOR IT – DO IT OUR WAY. You didn’t cut off the war funds, so we will. The message has to be that it is not a revolt, we just won’t pay for something we do not want.

    Question is, who has the courage to create the organization to advocate it? I have incurable cancer. Count me in.