What: All Issues : War & Peace : Defense Department spending bill to provide $95.5 billion in "emergency" appropriations for the military for the remainder of fiscal 2007/On passage (2007 house Roll Call 333)
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Defense Department spending bill to provide $95.5 billion in "emergency" appropriations for the military for the remainder of fiscal 2007/On passage
house Roll Call 333     May 10, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was the final vote on legislation to provide $95 billion in "emergency" appropriations for the Defense Department, primarily to fund the war in Iraq.

This 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.)

Under the new legislation, 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.

Although the bill had many facets, debate primarily focused on the progress - or lack thereof - in Iraq and whether American troops should continue to occupy that country.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) said it was time to end the conflict. "This combat is constitutionally and strategically unjustifiable, operationally poorly executed with regard to armoring and deploying the troops, and politically and diplomatically disastrous," he said.

"This war is not making anyone more safer or more free, and it cannot be won militarily," Holt said. "As retired General Odom said, the challenge we face today is not how to win in Iraq but how to recover from a strategic mistake, invading Iraq in the first place."

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) questioned whether the funding in the bill had too many strings attached to allow the U.S. military to be effective.

"It is like giving a soldier a brand-new uniform and then shackling his foot to an anvil. And that anvil, Mr. Speaker, is politics," Kingston said. "Our soldiers fight wars. They cannot take care of Iraqi politics. And yet this bill puts 17 different stipulations on that funding for our soldiers, to say that if these aren't taken care of, then you lose your funding."

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.)

The legislation also would fund $6.8 billion for hurricane relief and recovery, $3.3 billion for military health care, and $2.25 billion for homeland security. It would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over two years as well as provide $4.8 billion in small-business tax incentives.

In the end, only two Republicans voted for the resolution, joining all but 10 Democrats in passing the $95.5 billion legislation. Thus, by a vote of 221 to 205, the House passed "emergency" appropriations to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as hurricane relief, military health care and homeland security programs, and the measure was sent to the Senate incorporating Democrats' stipulations on the release of the funds.

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