Battle continues over war funding

John Dimsdale Mar 22, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: And this Thursday brings us one small step closer to figuring out how much a Democratic Congress might be willing to pay for the war in Iraq. The House began its debate on the president’s request for a hundred billion dollars in emergency funding today. A vote could come by Friday.

The package has become a $125 billion goodie bag when you add up all the extras that’ve been tacked on to make it politically attractive. Some lawmakers in both parties aren’t pleased with language requiring a troop pullout. From Washington, Marketplace’s John Dimsdale reports the president’s promised a veto, but the bill’s congressional fate is still very much up in the air.

JOHN DIMSDALE: Moderate Democrats argue tieing the President’s hands will undercut U.S. troops. The war’s more vociferous critics say it’s time for Congress to set a deadline.

Louise Slaughter is a Democrat from New York.

LOUISE SLAUGHTER: Passing yet another blank check, as past Congresses have done, would be a dereliction of duty.

Republicans, like California’s David Drier, accused Democrats of buying votes by adding spending the president didn’t ask for.

DAVID DRIER: None of these are emergency items. Their only connection to emergency supplemental appropriations for the war, Mr Speaker, in Iraq is that they’re necessary to build support for this bill — a bill that trades victory for electoral gains.

Trying to keep her tenuous majority in line behind the war-funding bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told wavering Democrats if the bill doesn’t pass, she’ll introduce a version without any troop-withdrawal language.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN: And that would pass. That would get probably all the Republicans and a significant number of moderate Democrats.

Congressional analyst Norman Ornstein

at the American Enterprise Institute says Speaker Pelosi is using deadline pressure.

ORNSTEIN: She’s saying that if this bill goes down, they can’t go back to the drawing board. They’re gonna have to get this bill done so that they won’t have to suffer the slings that come with not getting the money out to the troops in the field, or the wounded soldiers in Walter Reed.

The House is expected to vote tomorrow. A divided Senate takes it up next week.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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