This was a vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating the bill providing supplemental fiscal year 2009 funds for several federal programs and departments. Among the uses for the supplemental funds were the “Cash for Clunkers” program that allowed Americans to trade in older gas guzzling cars for new high efficiency ones; additional military needs in Iraq and Afghanistan; aid to state and local governments to help deal with the swine flu pandemic; and assistance to the global efforts to track and contain the spread of the swine flu pandemic.
Rep. Arcuri (D-NY), who was leading the support for the rule, focused on the portion of the measure that “takes a step towards that goal (of winding down military action in Iraq) by providing for the training of security forces, economic development, and diplomatic operations.” He also said it “provides for training of Afghan security forces and counterinsurgency measures in bordering Pakistan.”
Rep. Dreier (D-CA), who was leading the effort against the rule, said he opposed it “with extreme disappointment and sadness”. He claimed that President Obama had called for bipartisan action on the supplement funding measure, but that “the Democratic leadership had thwarted efforts to follow the Obama directive . . . (by) considering it in an extraordinarily partisan way.” Dreier claimed that the bill “actually cuts troop funding in order to pay for billions of dollars of additional non-troop non-emergency spending.” He gave as an example the additional money for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “to provide additional global bailouts.” Dreier said “there's nothing to ensure that United States taxpayer dollars don't go to countries like Iran or Venezuela. The question of whether to provide this new IMF funding is a controversial one . . . it's one that should be fully debated . . .”
Dreier went on to argue that “(T)he Democratic leadership, instead, chose to cut troop funding and load this bill up with other very controversial funding that does not support our troops. Republicans made it clear that we could not support a troop funding bill that does not, in fact, fully fund our troops. So the leadership on the other (Democratic) side of the aisle . . . lost Republican support (and) . . . chose to push the contents of this bill as far to the left as they possibly could in the hopes of picking up support from the fringes of their own party.”
Rep. Arcuri responded that the bill “provides very well for our troops because that is the most important thing that we, as Members of Congress, can do.” He went on to acknowledge that: “(S)ome people may argue it is not enough, but we need to give them everything that we possibly can. Voting ‘no’ simply because you think it is not enough is not a solution . . . .”
The resolution passed by a vote of 238-183. All Two hundred and thirty-eight “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Ten other Democrats joined all one hundred and seventy-three Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to take up the bill providing supplemental fiscal year 2009 funding.