Most local lawmakers oppose war spending bill

The House of Representatives this afternoon passed the 2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act – $96.7 billion in military spending, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, through Sept. 30 – on a 368-60 vote; the U.S. Senate continues working on its own version.

Most Bay Area House members, unsurprisingly, opposed it: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma. Voting for the bill were Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; and Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, while Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was absent.

I spoke a few minutes ago with McNerney, who said that as far as Iraq goes, he supports the additional funding so long as President Obama follows through with his timeline for drawing down troops there.

Afghanistan, McNerney said, is “a little bit more complicated, a little more difficult – I’m very concerned about what’s happening over there. … The president has a good team over there and I want to see him have an opportunity to carry out an acceptable outcome.”

More commentary, after the jump…

From Woolsey, the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ co-chairwoman:

“Madam Speaker, I rise today with grave concerns about the measure before us. This supplemental funding bill will sink us further into the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The cost of the supplemental is just too great. Without a redeployment plan, our endless military presence will only serve to fuel anti-Americanism throughout the region and promote instability.

“Sadly, Members were not provided a chance to remedy this situation. Proposals provide accountability and transparency from my colleagues Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, and John Tierney won’t have the chance to get an up or down vote on the floor.

“The American people deserve better than this. I urge my colleagues to oppose this funding and promote a foreign policy based on smart security – humanitarian assistance, development, and diplomacy.”

From House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“Our men and women in uniform deserve our support as they defend our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. This legislation provides that support by ensuring our troops have the resources they need for victory without including politically-motivated restrictions meant to hamstring our commanders in the field. As the legislation moves to the Senate, it should be kept free of unrelated spending or language to undermine our troops so we can get this bill to the President’s desk as quickly as possible.

“I am pleased that $80 million in funding to close the Guantanamo Bay prison was removed from this bill. It deserved to be removed, because the Administration still has not detailed a plan for what to do with the 200-plus terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay prison. Republicans – and an overwhelming majority of the American people – believe they should not be imported into the United States, and that is why we have introduced the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act. The legislation would ensure terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay prison are not transferred or released into our communities. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the legislation and work for its vote in the House.”

UPDATE @ 3:44 P.M.: From Miller:

“I continue to be deeply troubled by the lack of cooperation and support by our allies in the effort in Afghanistan and Pakistan and I am deeply troubled by the continued corruption within the Pakistani military. My vote against the supplemental appropriations bill should be interpreted as a sign of my desire to see our Administration do far more to win cooperation and support from our allies and to route out corruption within the Pakistani military.”

UPDATE @ 4:20 P.M.: From Lee:

“I opposed the 2001 resolution authorizing the use of force because I believed it gave President Bush and any future President an open ended blank check to wage war anywhere on the globe, starting in Afghanistan. Today, nearly eight years later, I oppose the supplemental appropriations bill for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq because it continues us down the wrong path and can lead to war without end.

“Specifically, I opposed the bill because it favors military activities over diplomatic, development, and reconstruction efforts by a ratio of 9 to 1. Afghanistan will not be stabilized through military might. As noted by the Carnegie Endowment, ‘the presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban.’

“The bill does not include an exit plan for Afghanistan. In committee I offered an amendment that would have ensure we have in place an exit plan in the event our objectives for that country prove to be unattainable, unrealistic, or too costly in blood and treasure.

“Additionally, it does not require the fully funded redeployment of troops out of Iraq within 12 months, the LEE Amendment would have corrected this problem but was not made in order by the Rules Committee.

“It does not prohibit ‘drone’ attacks. These unmanned aerial attacks don’t help us because they cause high level of civilian casualties and alienate the population we are trying to help.

“Finally, the bill does not include the strong regional approach the situation demands, nor does it provide for a strong nuclear non proliferation strategy in Pakistan.

“President Obama is correct in saying that ‘we should be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in’ — that’s good advice for Iraq and great advice for Afghanistan. The best way to help the Afghan people develop a stable and functioning state is to decrease our military presence and increase our use of diplomatic, development, and reconstruction activities.

“The supplemental appropriations bill does not reflect a new direction. Therefore, I could not vote for it.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.