This was a vote on passage of the 2009 bill providing additional fiscal year 2009 funding for the ongoing military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rep. Obey (D-WI), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee and led the support for the legislation, limited his argument to the following sentence: “we have a new President who has inherited a war he is trying to end. This bill tries to help him do that. We have no real alternative but to support it.” Rep. Lewis (R-CA), who was leading the Republicans in the debate on this measure, urged an “aye” vote because “the (bill) provides the necessary resources for our soldiers and civilians to wage a successful battle on multiple fronts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.”
Lewis then went on to criticize the fact that “(H)ouse Members were initially led to believe that this legislation would be kept at the President's original level of $84 billion to fund only the critical needs of the global war on terrorism. As presented today, however, this legislation has grown to $96.7 billion . . . .”
A number of the most progressive House Members expressed reservations about, or outright opposition to, the additional funding. Rep. Honda (D-CA) first said he recognized “that our new (Obama) administration believes that this supplemental (funding) is a necessary carryover from the previous administration, but I cannot support the continuation of the Bush Administration's failed modus operandi in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and the mis-proportioned 90-10 doctrine of assistance allocation--that is, 90 percent for military investments and only 10 percent for political, economic, and social development. . . .”
Rep. Conyers (D-MI) said he opposed the measure because he did not believe that the United States “has a duty to determine the fate of nations in the greater Middle East.” Conyers added: “I believe the policies of empire are counterproductive in our struggle against the forces of radical religious extremism . . . If it is our goal to strengthen the average Afghani or Pakistani citizen and to weaken the radicals that threaten stability in the region, bombing villages is clearly counterproductive. For every family broken apart by an incident of ‘collateral damage,’ seeds of hate and enmity are sown against our nation.” Conyers concluded his remarks by saying that “this vote is a referendum on our means, not on our goals in the region or our commitment to defeating those who would wish us harm.”
Rep. Nadler (D-NY) noted that he supported the bill “reluctantly”, and expressed the views of many progressive House Members when he said that he “will not support an open-ended long term commitment in Afghanistan. I am concerned that the goals may very well be too ambitious, too vague, and too costly--in lives and treasure--for our country. I will continue to monitor the situation closely, and I will oppose funding for unrealistic mission creep.”
The bill passed on a vote of 368-60.Two hundred Democrats and one hundred and sixty-eight Republicans voted “aye”. Fifty-one Democrats, including a majority of the most progressive Members, and nine Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the House passed and sent to the Senate the bill providing additional fiscal year 2009 funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.