Friday, June 12, 2009

House Democrats Pressed to Back War Supplemental

June 12, 2009 – 1:56 p.m.

Despite deals cut late Thursday to wrap up the fiscal 2009 war supplemental, some House Democrats say they do not yet have enough support to pass the final bill.

“We don’t have the votes for it yet,” said House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman John P. Murtha , D-Pa.

“Nancy’s working it,” he added, referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif. “It’s going to be a very close vote.”

Republicans say they are united in opposition to the latest version of the big spending package, which the top House GOP appropriator said totals $106 billion. They are digging in against inclusion of $5 billion that President Obama wants in order to leverage $108 billion in additional lending by the International Monetary Fund.

If the Republicans hold fast, Democrats would have to come up with all the votes necessary to adopt the conference report from their own members. And 51 of their members — antiwar liberals — voted ‘no” when the House first passed the bill (minus the IMF provision) in May.

Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the Speaker continues to push for support for the bill. “The vote is scheduled for next week, and we’re moving forward,” he said.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California, a leader of the antiwar Democrats, said the White House is threatening to withdraw support from freshmen who oppose the bill, saying “you’ll never hear from us again.”

She said the House leadership also is targeting the freshmen.

“It’s really hard for the freshmen,” she said. “Nancy’s pretty powerful.”

Another antiwar leader, Dennis J. Kucinich , D-Ohio, said most on his side are holding solid: “From what I can see, people are concerned about going home and having to explain why they voted for the war when their constituents are opposed to it, and explain why they switched if they switch.”

But Woolsey suggested that arguments by Democratic leaders that lawmakers should support Obama’s new strategy for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan may prevail. “People want to give the new president a chance on this,” she said.

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