The House has voted 280-142 for an Iraq emergency supplemental spending bill which has no timetable for withdrawal or benchmarks for progress; the entire Bay Area delegation — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — voted against it.
Said Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo: “Everyone in Congress is keenly conscious of the need to support our troops, and it’s even more on our minds as Memorial Day approaches. But giving the president as much latitude as this bill provides to conduct this war, in which our fighting men and women have engaged so bravely, is no way to show our support. We have to ensure that feasible, responsible plans are guiding our country’s military strategy so that we can bring our troops home as soon as possible. … In the election last November and in every subsequent public expression on this subject, the American people have made clear they are looking for a responsible plan for bringing the war to an end. Instead, the President launched an ill-conceived escalation plan. He went on to reject legislation that Congress put forth to create real benchmarks for improvement and timelines for redeploying the troops. It is time to take more stringent measures in order to get the situation under control.”
Said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo: “I have voted for every bill to bring our troops home because I am deeply committed to ending our involvement in an Iraqi civil war. After much thought, deliberation and listening to my constituents I voted against the supplemental appropriations bill. I cannot vote to give the president one more blank check. Each time he has proven irresponsible, irrational and obstinate. This entire debate is sprung from his failure to lead both in Iraq and here at home. If the president won’t lead, Congress will. That is why I look forward to voting on a de-authorization of the use of force. Speaker Pelosi has promised me that a vote on my bill, the Change the Course in Iraq Act (H.R. 1460), will come to the floor in September at the end of this short term funding measure. The mission in Iraq no longer bears any resemblance to what Congress authorized four years ago. Repealing the Congressional authorization for the war is the responsible way for the Congress to make it crystal clear to the president that Congress and the people we represent have had enough.”
More after the jump…
Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, had spoken out against the bill before the vote:
“Decades ago, I ran for Congress because I opposed the war in Vietnam. After arriving in Washington, I carried out the will of my constituents, repeatedly voting to stop funding the death of American troops and Vietnamese civilians.
“More than four years ago, I voted against the original resolution authorizing the president to take unprecedented preemptive military action against Iraq. In the years since, I have consistently opposed the president at every turn, always voting to deny him the funding he requested to continue his failed war in Iraq.
“Last November, the American people delivered a loud and clear message to their representatives in Washington. In electing a Democratic House and Senate, the public demanded a new direction in Iraq.
“Today, however, we’re staying the course.
“The supplemental before us includes no deadlines for troop withdrawal and no enforceable benchmarks for holding President Bush accountable.
“In other words, there is no way I — or the overwhelming majority of my constituents — would ever support it.
“We can’t go on like this, killing our troops and Iraqi civilians — and wasting tens of billions that would be better spent on vital domestic priorities like education and health care.
“You know who supports this bill? President Bush and Republicans in Congress who refuse to acknowledge either the Shiite-Sunni civil war or our lack of progress in Iraq.
“I strongly urge my colleagues to remember who sent them to Washington. It wasn’t President Bush; it was America’s voters. They’ve made their opposition to this war clear. It’s time for Congress to do the same.”
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, also had urged her colleagues to oppose the bill:
“Mr. Speaker, in 2003 Congress approved a $78 billion dollar supplemental. In 2004 it was $87 billion. In 2005 it was $82 billion. In 2006 it was $72 billion. And now the administration wants almost $100 billion more?
“As of today, 3,429 of our brave troops and countless Iraqis have died in this occupation. The president has dug us into a deep hole in Iraq and it boggles my mind that Congress wants to give him another blank check to buy more shovels.
“This occupation and civil war cannot be won militarily. Mr. Speaker, how many will have to die before this House stops writing blank checks?
“Mr. Speaker, the American people are looking to Congress to end this failed policy and bring our troops home.
“Two months ago, we took the Lee Amendment to the Rules Committee, which would have fully funded the safe and timely withdrawal of U.S forces from Iraq. That is what we should be voting to do today, not to give the president another blank check. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.”