What: All Issues : War & Peace : War with Iraq : HR 1591. Fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations conference report funding emergency hurricane spending, war spending and other items/On the conference report (2007 senate Roll Call 147)
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HR 1591. Fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations conference report funding emergency hurricane spending, war spending and other items/On the conference report
senate Roll Call 147     Apr 26, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on passing the fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations conference report. Both the House and Senate had previously passed different versions of a fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations bill. When the two chambers differ on a measure, members of the House and Senate meet to work out those differences in what is known as a conference committee. The conference committee produces a conference report, which contains the agreement reached on the final bill.

Supplemental bills are funding measures intended to deal with emergencies or unforeseen needs that come up after Congress has already outlined its spending priorities for the year. The measure would dole out $124.2 billion in additional funding, over and above what Congress had already enacted earlier in the year, to cover continued military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill also contains some domestic initiatives, such as emergency funding for hurricane recovery.

Though the bill's purpose is to allocate money for emergencies, because it is considered "must-pass" legislation, often unrelated items hitch a ride (for instance, the conference report would raise the minimum wage to $7.25/hour). It would set several benchmarks for measuring progress in Iraq, and contains a provision requiring that President Bush certify that Iraq is making substantial progress toward democratization (and hence toward these benchmarks). If he does not make that certification, troop withdrawal would begin immediately. If Bush makes the certification, it would push the withdrawal date back to 2008. A veto was threatened over this portion of the bill, and congressional Republicans spent significant time fighting unsuccessfully to remove it.

Democrats have maintained that American troops have fulfilled their duties and that to remain longer in Iraq would mean more lives lost for little gain. They also say that in pushing for withdrawing troops from Iraq, they are honoring a mandate given to them by the American people during the last election, when Democrats took both the House and Senate from an entrenched Republican majority.

"President Bush has tried to scare the pants off the public by suggesting that our bill could result in death and destruction in America. What utter nonsense. What hogwash," said Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. "We must listen to the voices of the people, and the American people have sent a very clear message to Washington: It is time to start to bring our troops home from Iraq. The Congress has responded, crafting a new direction that will spur the Iraqi government to pursue real political reconciliation in that country."

Republicans, on the other hand, have argued that this would result in a precipitous withdrawal of troops that would create a vacuum in Iraq that would be filled by terrorist organizations. They say this would destabilize the entire Middle East and put America at risk for more terrorist attacks on its soil.

"I will vote against the conference report with a deadline in it. A conference report with a deadline in it, if it passes … would be the day al-Qaeda would declare victory. The day the deadline is set would be the day they would declare victory. I think it is the wrong way for us to go," said Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

The Senate adopted the conference report by a vote of 51-46. Democrats were unanimous in supporting the measure, though Independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who often votes with Democrats but who has said he does not support removing troops from Iraq, voted against it. All but two Republicans voted with the White House against the amendment: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon. Thus, the conference report on the fiscal 2007 supplemental spending bill was cleared and sent to President Bush for his signature.

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