The decision by Democratic leaders to cave in to President Bush’s demands for an Iraq funding bill without timetables for withdrawal or even meaningful troop readiness standards has angered some of the party’s most fervent supporters, who are warning they could mount primary challenges to Members who vote for the war measure.
With groups such as MoveOn.org and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq launching a full-court press to get Members to vote against the Iraq War supplemental, many Democrats — likely including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) — will vote against the Iraq funding, although several indicated Wednesday that they would support war funding for now.
Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, slammed the deal as “just a blank check for an endless war. ... MoveOn members are asking us to consider all options for Democratic Members of Congress who ran on ending the war but vote for more chaos and more troops in Iraq, including in-district advertising and recruitment of primary challengers.”
Americans Against Escalation in Iraq also urged a “no” vote, saying the group “will use the Congressional recess and the summer to turn the heat up on Members of Congress irrespective of party who continue to support the war — to make it so hot that they are forced to abandon Bush’s war once and for all.”
The House’s most fervent war opponents made it clear that they would vote against the bill and urged others to do so as well.
“It’s giving the president what he wants without holding him to account,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who had sponsored an amendment calling for an end to the war that received 171 votes. “Maybe we can pull off a miracle and defeat the goddamn thing.”
McGovern said the decision was clearly made by leadership that the White House would spend all of the Memorial Day recess trying to “spin and demagogue” the issue of war funding and that Bush in the end wouldn’t be willing to negotiate.
But McGovern sought to pin the blame on Republicans rather than his fellow Democrats.
“I think people who vote to fund this war need to be held accountable,” he said, but added of MoveOn, “I wish they would go after the Republicans because that’s where the problem is.”
McGovern said he does not see how someone could vote for his amendment to end the war and for the troop-funding amendment.
“I guess if you are schizophrenic you can.”
“For people who have run against the war, they see this as the end of the rope,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus. “I feel let down that we’re still in Iraq. I’m going to continue to feel let down until we’re out of there.”
Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) said he was wrestling with how to vote but said MoveOn’s attacks on Democrats weren’t helpful. “I would urge MoveOn and others to recognize that the person who is extending this war is George Bush. ... The focus has got to be on electing a Democratic president,” he said. “If we elect a Democratic president, this war is over.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.