Will 39 Democrats Stand Up to Stop the War Funding?

The White House and the Democratic Congressional Leadership are
playing a very dirty game in their effort to ram through supplemental
funding for the escalating US war in Afghanistan and continued
occupation of Iraq. In the crosshairs of the big guns at the White
House and on Capitol Hill are anti-war freshmen legislators and the
movement to hold those responsible for torture accountable.

funding the wars, the White House has been able to rely on strong GOP
support to marginalize the anti-war Democrats who have pledged to vote
against continued funding (as 51 Democrats did in May when the
supplemental was first voted on). But the White House is running into
trouble now because of Republican opposition to some of the provisions
added to the bill (and one removed), meaning the pro-war Democrats
actually need a fair number of anti-war Democrats to switch sides. In
short, the current battle will clearly reveal exactly how many
Democrats actually oppose these wars. And, according to reports, the White House and Democratic Leadership have the gloves off in the fight:

Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California, a leader of the antiwar
Democrats, said the White House is threatening to withdraw support from
freshmen who oppose the bill, saying "you'll never hear from us again."

She said the House leadership also is targeting the freshmen.

"It's really hard for the freshmen," she said. "Nancy's pretty powerful."

On June 11, the relevant committees in the House and Senate approved the $105.9 billion spending package. According to an analysis by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation:

The bill includes $79.9 billion for the Department of
Defense, primarily to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,
roughly $4.4 billion more than the amount sought by the Administration.
This funding is in addition to the $65.9 billion "bridge fund" in war
funding for FY'09 that Congress approved last June. To date Congress
has approved over $814 billion for military operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan, not including the $80 billion recommended by the
Conference Committee, In addition, the Obama Administration is seeking
$130 billion in for fiscal year 2010. Both the House and Senate could
take up the conference agreement as early as this week.

addition to funding combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bill
provides $10.4 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), and $7.7 billion for Pandemic Flu

The current battle over war funding has brought with it a couple of
high-stakes actions, which have threatened passage of the bill. Many
Democrats were up in arms about an amendment sponsored by Senators Joe
Lieberman and Lindsey Graham that would have blocked the release of
photos depicting US abuse of prisoners (which the White House "actively" supported. Facing warnings that the provision could derail the funding package, the White House stepped in, deploying Rahm Emanuel
to the Hill to convince legislators to drop the amendment, while at the
same time pledging that Obama would use his authority to continue to
fight the release of more photos:

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel 'rushed' to Capitol
Hill and prevailed upon Senate Democrats to remove the torture photo
measure in exchange for an explicit White House promise that it would
use all means at its disposal to block the photos' release. Obama also
issued a letter to Congress assuring it he would support separate
legislation to suppress the photos, if necessary, and imploring it to
speed passage of the war-spending bill. The rider would "unnecessarily
complicate the essential objective of supporting the troops," Obama

In other words, Obama took a position that amounted to providing
political cover to Democrats to support the war funding, while pledging
to implement, through other means, the very policy they supposedly
found objectionable.

Secondly, the White House and Congressional
leadership added a provision to the bill that extends up to $100
billion in credits to the International Monetary Fund. While this sent
many Republicans to the microphones to denounce the funding, the
Democratic leadership portrayed the IMF funding as a progressive policy:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is trying to paint
the IMF provision as a "very important national security initiative."
The IMF, she said, "can be a force for alleviating the fury of despair
among people, poor people throughout the world."

It is a pathetic symbol of just how bankrupt the Congressional
Democratic leadership is when it comes to US foreign policy that Nancy
Pelosi and Harry Reid are trying to use funding for the IMF to convince
other Democrats to support war funding. The IMF has been a
destabilizing force in many countries across the globe through its
austerity measures and structural adjustment schemes. Remember, it was
the policies of the IMF and its cohorts at the World Bank and World
Trade Organizations that sparked global uprisings in the 1990s.

To support the IMF funding scam, the Center for American Progress, which has passionately supported Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan, released a position paper today called, "Bailing Out the Bailer-Outer: Five Reasons Congress Should Agree to Fund the IMF."

Thankfully, some anti-war Democrats seem to understand the atrocious role the IMF has played and have tried to impose rules
on the funding that would attempt to confront the IMF's austerity
measures by requiring that "the funds allocated by Congress for global
stimulus are used for stimulatory, and not contractionary, purposes."

adding the IMF provision to this bill, the White House is making a bold
statement about the intimate relationship of the hidden hand of US
neoliberal economic policy to the iron fist of US militarism.

the end of the day, the real issue here is: How many Democrats will
actually stand up on principle to the funding of the wars, regardless
of the bells and whistles the White House and Democratic Leadership
attach or the threats they need to endure from their own party?

order to block passage, 39 Democrats need to vote against it in the
House. As of this writing, 34 reportedly are committed to voting
against it. Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake has been doing great coverage
of this issue, much of which can be found here. So too has David Swanson at AfterDowningStreet. This does seem to be one issue where phone calls and letters matter-tremendously. See where your representative stands here.
As of this writing, these are the legislators who are reportedly
leaning toward a "No" vote, but have not yet committed. They are the
people most likely to be convinced by hearing from constituents:

  1. Steve Cohen
  2. Keith Ellison
  3. Chakah Fattah
  4. Mike Honda
  5. Doris Matsui
  6. Ed Markey
  7. Jim McDermott
  8. Gwen Moore
  9. Jared Polis
  10. Jan Schakowsky
  11. Jackie Speier
  12. Mike Thompson
  13. John Tierney
  14. Mel Watt
  15. Anthony Weiner

UPDATE: I just spoke to Trevor Kincaid, Jan Schakowsky's
communications director and he told me that Schakowsky will not release
a statement on her position on the supplemental "until after the vote."
I asked him if she was concerned about going back on her 2007 pledge
never to vote for war funding that did not call for troop withdrawal.
He said, "She is currently reviewing the pros and cons of the bill." He
would provide no further comment.

Also, Jane Hamsher reports that it now appears Keith Ellison is voting no.

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