Providing for consideration (H. Res. 387) for two fiscal 2007 "emergency" supplemental spending bills and legislation to require a withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq (H.R. 2206, H.R. 2237, H.R. 2207)/On adoption of the rules package
house Roll Call 327 May 10, 2007
This was the final vote on the rules for debate for a series of bills to provide $95.5 billion in "emergency" appropriations for the military for the remainder of fiscal 2007, a timeline for withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq as well as $4.5 billion for agriculture relief.
The resolution outlined the rules for debate for the legislation, including how much floor time would be granted to each side and which amendments would be considered in order. The resolution is thus commonly known as the rules package.
Republicans opposed the rules package because of their opposition to the so-called "closed rule" proposed by the Democratic-controlled Rules Committee. Under a closed rule, no amendments can be offered on the House floor.
This Iraq war-spending bill was drafted after President Bush vetoed similar legislation because of its inclusion of a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq. (See Roll Calls 235 and 276.) The original bill also contained disaster relief for farmers following record droughts and other severe weather in many parts of the country.
This time around, House appropriators separated the two spending bills and the Iraq pullout language into three separate measures. The rules of consideration would provide that the three measures be combined into one piece of legislation after they were adopted individually.
Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said he made the decision to separate the measures after Republicans had criticized Democrats for including the farm relief in the original war-spending supplemental as a way to "buy" votes for the troop-withdrawal provisions.
"The president seemed to suggest in his veto message that we didn't have the courage to deal with the agriculture and other related issues alone, that we had to slip them in, so to speak, in the Iraq bill," Obey said. "And frankly, that got my dander up."
Under the this plan, the war-spending bill itself would be divided into two parts: $42.8 billion would be provided immediately to fund military operations, an amount expected to last two to three months. The measure would then require a second round of votes in late July to release the remaining $52.8 billion.
The legislation would also include similar benchmarks for the Iraqi government as had been in the spending bill Bush vetoed May 1. Prior to the vote to release the second sum of funding, Congress would vote on an amendment requiring that the second sum be used solely to start bringing U.S. combat forces home within 90 days of enactment.
Bush expressed his intension to veto this spending package, as well.
The Iraq spending bill is the seventh "emergency" appropriations bill to make its way through Congress during President Bush's term. Another, more massive supplemental spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was expected in the fall. ("Emergency" supplemental appropriations bills are so named because they are handled outside of the regular annual Congressional processes that fund the activities of the U.S. government and therefore don't have to abide by normal budget rules.)
Republicans called the series of bills a "charade" and complained about the closed process under which they were going to be brought to the House floor.
"First they brought up a bill that they knew the President would veto. Then they called for a veto override that they knew would fail. And today we are once again considering the same defeatist policy that failed in the first two rounds plus, plus, Mr. Speaker, a call for redeployment, basically withdrawal, within 90 days, to begin withdrawal within 90 days," Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) said. "Kicking the pullout vote a few months down the road is not a solution."
Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said she found it "striking" that for all four years the Iraq war has been funded by supplemental appropriations measures.
"From the beginning the White House has refused to plan ahead. Instead it has counted on Congress to accept its demands and pass one supplemental bill and then another time and time again, with no end in sight and no accountability required in return," Slaughter said. "The American people have rejected a House that blindly accepts the administration's predictions about Iraq, all the while ceding its role in deciding matters of war and peace, the most solemn responsibility given to the Congress."
On an almost completely party-line vote, the House adopted the rules of consideration for the three measures. Only one Republican broke ranks to support it, and five Democrats crossed party lines to vote against it. Thus, by a vote of 219 to 199, the House approved the rules of debate for three pieces of legislation that would later be combined into one bill: supplemental appropriations for the Iraq war, a timeline for the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq and emergency funding for farming relief.
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