Monday, June 8, 2009

Detainee Photos Offer Yet Another Sticking Point for War Spending Bill

June 8, 2009 – 2:02 p.m.

As House leaders struggle to line up enough Democratic support to pass a war spending measure, two senators are fighting to keep in the final version a provision that would block release of detainee photographs.

Senate Armed Services Committee members Joseph I. Lieberman , I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham , R-S.C., said they will oppose the war supplemental without that provision, which would shield the detainee photographs from release under the Freedom of Information Act.

“The president has said that the release of the photos of detainees in U.S. custody would put our troops and civilians serving our nation abroad in greater danger; we agree with the commander in chief,” the senators said in a joint statement.

The Senate adopted the prohibition as an amendment to its version of the bill. But many liberal Democrats in the House, already opposed to spending more money on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, oppose the WhiteHouse effort to keep the photos away from public view.

House Democratic leaders are still working to bring over as many as 18 of the 51 Democrats who voted against the initial version of the war funding bill in May. They haven’t set a firm date for final passage because they’re still working to nail down a majority in support of the bill.

Democrats are scheduled to discuss the spending legislation on Tuesday at noon.

House and Senate leaders are also still considering President Obama’s June 2 request for an additional $2.2 billion for flu preparedness and an extra $200 million in aid for Pakistan.

House Republicans have said they will vote against the supplemental if it includes $5 billion to leverage expansive new lending by the International Monetary Fund. That means Democrats will have to come up with the votes pretty much by themselves.

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