July 2010, Week 4


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Wed, 28 Jul 2010 22:26:30 -0400
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War Opposition Grows As 102 House Dems, 12 Republicans Oppose Obama's Afghan Surge 

John Nichols
The Nation
July 28, 2010

More than 100 Democratic House members and a dozen
Republicans [1]voted against funding the Obama
administration's Afghan war surge Tuesday, offering one
of the strongest shows of opposition to presidential
warmaking since the Vietnam War era.

President Obama still got the money for his expanded
war in Afghanistan, as well as for his plan to continue
the occupation of Iraq.

By a 308-114 vote [1], the House approved a $58.8
billion emergency funding bill-most of which will go to
pay for the president's plan to surge tens of thousands
of additional troops into Afghanistan. The measure
parallels a Senate bill passed earlier this month and
will now go to Obama's desk for a quick signature.

But the real story Tuesday was that so many members of
the president's own party rejected his misguided
approach to foreign policy.

Even in 1968, at the end of his tortured presidency,
Lyndon Johnson never faced so high a level of
opposition from fellow Democrats to his requests for
Vietnam War funding as Obama was hit with Tuesday. And
the votes against Obama's war were not just coming from
the usual suspects; Democratic opposition to the
president's policies surged from thirty-two votes
against last year's supplemental spending bill for
Afghanistan and Iraq to 102 against this year's bill.

"All of the puzzle has been put together and it is not
a pretty picture; things are really ugly over there,"
Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, said Tuesday
[2] with regard to the House Democratic Caucus. "I
think the White House continues to underestimate the
depth of antiwar sentiment here."

California Democrat Lynn Woolsey, a co-chair of the
Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that this week's
Wikileaks revelations regarding the quagmire in
Afghanistan had strengethened the resolve of many
Democrats who were doubtful about the supplemental.
"The documents released to the news media this past
weekend by WikiLeaks add to the mounting evidence that
the war in Afghanistan remains fiscally unsustainable
and morally unjustifiable," said Woolsey, [3]who
explained that, "As if I needed any more persuasion,
the WikiLeaks revelations left me with no other choice
than to vote this week against the supplemental
appropriations bill to spend billions more on military
operations in Afghanistan. How could I in good
conscience endorse continued financial support for an
unwinnable war, one that does violence to our values
and is undermining our national security objectives?
There is only one option: End this war and bring our
troops home."

The most dramatic "no" vote came from Wisconsin
Democrat David Obey, the chair of the powerful House
Appropriations Committee, who was charged with bringing
the bill to the floor for a vote.

"I have a double, and conflicting, obligation. As
chairman, I have the obligation to bring this
supplemental before the House to allow the institution
to work its will," explained Obey [4]. "But I also have
the obligation to my conscience to indicate-by my
individual vote-my profound skepticism that this action
will accomplish much more than to serve as a recruiting
incentive for those who most want to do us ill."

Obey argued that the governments of Afghanistan and
Pakistan unreliable partners with histories of
corruption. And he questioned why US tax dollars should
fill their coffers when the United States is struggling
to deal with domestic economic challenges.

"I have the highest respect and appreciation for our
troops who have done everything asked of them. They are
being let down by the inability of the governments of
Afghanistan and in some instances Pakistan to do their
parts," Obey told the House. "I would be willing to
support additional war funding-provided that Congress
would vote, up or down, explicitly on whether or not to
continue this policy after a new National Intelligence
Estimate is produced. But absent that discipline, I
cannot look my constituents in the eye and say that
this operation will hurt our enemies more than us."

As arguably the top expert in Congress on budgeting,
the Appropriations Committee chair explained that
continued spending of the sort seen in the supplemental
for an ill-defined and seemingly endless occupation of
Afghanistan threatens to "obliterate our ability to
make the kinds of long term investments in our own
country that are so desperately needed."

Joining Obey in voting "no" to the war supplemental
were a number of senior Democrats, including Education
and Labor Committee chair George Miller of California,
Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers of Michigan and
Veterans' Affairs Committee chair Bob Filner of

Among the Republicans voting "no" were the GOP's
traditional antiwar bloc, which includes Texas
Congressman Ron Paul, Tennessee Congressman John Duncan
and North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones, as well as
a number of new critics of the Afghanistan mission.

Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake, an ally of Senator John
McCain, the Arizona Republican who is one of the war's
most ardent backers, voted "no."

So, too, did Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who
explained that [5]: "If the reason we should stay in
Afghanistan is because we are in Afghanistan then it is
time to re-evaluate your position." Source URL:

Links: [1] http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll474.xml
split-on-war-spending-bill/?hp [3]
00729544/1350?p=2&amp;tc=pg [4]
oppose-afghan-funding.html?wprss=44 [5]


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