Progressives Press for Separate Vote on War Spending

Posted May 12, 2010 at 6:20pm

A coalition of progressive lawmakers is preparing to press Democratic leaders to allow them to vote against the war funding portions of the upcoming supplemental spending bill while still supporting other portions of the legislation, such as relief funds for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said the group discussed plans Wednesday to pursue a vote structure that would isolate the portion of the upcoming supplemental that would pay for ongoing military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which most progressives oppose.

“We hope that it’s separated votes,” Grijalva said, “That’s been the past practice, so we’re assuming that will continue to be the practice.”

Grijalva said that he and other CPC members were prepared to vote against the full supplemental if the war funding portion did not get its own vote but added that they were fairly confident Democratic leaders would accommodate their requests.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to that point,” he said. “It’s been past practice that the courtesy has been to separate it. The Speaker has said it’s a vote of conscience, and that’s where the conscience vote is.”

A Democratic leadership aide said that leaders were aware of progressives’ wishes and that a separate vote was “under consideration” but stopped short of committing to multiple votes.

Grijalva said CPC members also discussed plans to formulate an alternative budget proposal that rejects President Barack Obama’s proposed freeze on nonmilitary discretionary spending.

“We’re willing to work and talk,” Grijalva said. But he added that CPC members were “reconciled to having to defend those programs.”