House Narrowly Approves Supplemental

Posted June 16, 2009 at 5:37pm

The House narrowly passed the $105.9 billion war supplemental 226-202 on a largely party-line vote Tuesday after Democratic leaders whipped liberal lawmakers to back it.

The bill, which captured the support of five Republicans at the very end of voting, still faces trouble in the Senate, however, where Republicans are trying to strip a $1 billion “cash for clunkers— provision and are complaining about the lack of language keeping photos of abused detainees secret.

The troop-funding bill originally passed the House with strong bipartisan support, but that collapsed after the White House and Democrats attached a $108 billion loan package for the International Monetary Fund, which is strongly opposed by House Republicans.

Republican leaders said they would not support a “global bailout,— and they continued to charge that the money could go to Iran, Sudan and other regimes that are seen as supporting terrorists.

Democrats said Republicans were lying about the bill — saying that the U.S. would be able to block any loans going to Iran, which hasn’t received IMF funding in decades, and other countries that are seen as sponsors of terrorism. And they called Republicans out, including Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), for supporting IMF funding when they were in the majority only to demagogue the issue now.

“They are rank hypocrites,— House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said. “In 1999 … 162 Republicans voted for it,— he said, charging Republicans with putting politics over sensible policy.

And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that if the IMF funding was not approved, faltering countries could become a breeding ground for terrorists.

But Republicans said the IMF money shouldn’t be included on the bill.

“Funding for the IMF should be considered the way it’s supposed to be — in a separate bill on its own merits — not jammed through the House on the backs of our troops,— Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

With the bill now heading to the Senate, Democratic leaders said they may have a tough time retaining the cash for clunkers provision that was designed to spur car sales.

Because the language was not in either the original House or Senate versions of the supplemental, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) is expected to raise a point of order against it.

Sixty votes are needed to waive the point of order. However, it is unclear how many Republicans will vote to keep the measure in, and the votes of some Democrats are in doubt.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who wanted the provision limited to environmentally friendly cars, said she is undecided about how she might vote on the point of order.

But Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who has pushed the measure, said, “We will have … if not all, almost all of the Democrats. … At this point we’re counting the votes.—

Several Republicans have supported the measure in the past, including Sens. George Voinovich (Ohio), Sam Brownback (Kan.) and Kit Bond (Mo.).

Even if Democrats have 60 votes to save cash for clunkers, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that he would try to slow down the supplemental until he gets assurances from President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that they will act to stop the release of detainee abuse photos.

Graham said he wants Obama to issue an executive order to keep photos of detainee abuse at the hands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan confidential. He also wants Reid to schedule a vote on a bill barring the photos’ release.

Graham indicated that he may not be successful in stopping the supplemental from passing, but he vowed to hold up other Senate business until both his requests are met. The Senate included language in their version of the supplemental that would have stopped the pictures from being made public, but that provision was stripped in conference when House Democratic leaders said they could not get the votes for the bill with the provision in there.

Reid said he is considering whether to have a separate vote on the detainee photo bill, but that he would not negotiate on it until after the supplemental passes.

Obama opposes the release of the photos, but has stopped short of issuing an executive order that would declare the photos classified. The American Civil Liberties Union won a court case in April to get access to the photos, but the court issued a stay on that ruling last week so that the Obama administration can appeal to the Supreme Court.

The five Republicans who voted in favor of the supplemental were: Reps. Candice Miller (Mich.), Peter King (N.Y.), Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and John McHugh (N.Y.), who was recently nominated by the Obama administration to be the secretary of the Army.