Blue Dog Objections Delay War Supplemental

Posted May 8, 2008 at 10:50am

Prodded by Blue Dog Democrats balking over the cost of the measure, House Democratic leaders punted on their plan to bring the supplemental war spending bill to the floor Thursday.

Meanwhile, Republicans continued to protest Democratic procedural maneuvers on the House floor Thursday morning, this time accusing the chair of holding a vote open too long.

A senior House Democratic aide said the bill has been bumped to next week, though exact timing has yet to be determined.

Another Democratic aide close to negotiations on the bill said party leaders are eyeing next Tuesday for a Rules Committee hearing on the bill, which would put the bill on the floor by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats claimed credit for delaying the bill, saying they would not vote for it unless a $51 billion GI entitlement was offset somehow. They complained that bill simply does not abide by pay-as-you-go budget rules.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), co-chair of the Blue Dogs, said Thursday morning that he had told Democratic leaders that the group had done a whip count and was overwhelmingly opposed to the supplemental as it now stands.

“We were successful in getting the supplemental pulled from the floor this week,” Ross bragged.

“It’s clear the only reason it’s [the GI component] there is to circumvent the PAYGO rules, and we can’t stand for that,” Ross said.

Further complicating the path forward for the supplemental is liberal Out of Iraq Caucus members demanding additional votes on Iraq War restrictions, but that appears to be less of a problem for passage of the overall bill.

Ninety-three Democrats recently sent a letter to House leaders stating their commitment to voting against the supplemental without tying funding to troop withdrawals.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), a founding member of the anti-war caucus, chided members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition for threatening to vote against the rule for the supplemental, a move that, coupled with GOP support, would likely prevent the bill from advancing.

Woolsey said their plan to oppose the GI benefits through a procedural vote, as opposed to a direct vote on the bill, would mean that “we have to start all over again.”

“Shame on them. Shame on the Blue Dogs for not letting us vote our conscience,” Woolsey said. “Let them vote against the GI bill if they don’t want it.”

As things stand, Democrats appear to have at least tenuously agreed to hold three separate votes on war funding, policy restrictions and domestic spending add-ons.

But the supplemental first has to make it to the House floor for that to happen.