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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Busy Night in the Senate: War Funding Approved

The Washington Post has the sub headline of "Antiwar Democrats Rebuffed in 70-25 Vote" and in the article itself it goes through some of the votes that were agreed to and rejected last night on the Senate floor.

(Note: I will link to the Senate roll calls for the items as we go through them)

The Senate last night approved a $555 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, shortly after bowing to President Bush's demand for $70 billion in unrestricted funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Democrats had vowed only weeks ago to withhold any Iraq-specific money unless strict timelines for troop withdrawal were established, but they instead chose, on a 70 to 25 vote, to remove what appeared to be the final obstacle to sending the spending bill to the White House, where Bush has indicated he will sign it. Senators then passed the omnibus bill, 76 to 17.

76 yeahs, 17 nays, Hatch(R-UT) voted present and there were six not voting, those were, Biden (D-DE), Clinton (D-NY), Dodd (D-CT), Feinstein (D-CA), McCain (R-AZ,) Obama (D-IL).

Roll call on the final $555 billion omnibus bill is here and the bill itself, should you wish to read it can be found here.

As Ed Morrisey points out, this $555 billion omnibus bill contains about 9,000 earmarks, hundreds of which were airdropped into it in conference and that the Democrats are hoping the pork will serve as a consolation prize to their anti-war activists that have once again been rebuffed.

In a last ditch effort (this time around) to surrender once again, an amendment offered by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis), provide for the safe redeployment of United States troops from Iraq, was rejected with a vote of 24 to 71 and 5 not voting.

Roll call on that bill is here.

The text of that amendment (SA 3875) states:


(a) Transition of Mission.--The President shall promptly transition the mission of the United States Armed Forces in Iraq to the limited and temporary purposes set forth in subsection (d).

(b) Commencement of Safe, Phased Redeployment From Iraq.--The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of members of the United States Armed Forces from Iraq who are not essential to the limited and temporary purposes set forth in subsection (d). Such redeployment shall begin not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall be carried out in a manner that protects the safety and security of United States troops.

(c) Use of Funds.--No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after the date that is nine months after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(d) Except for Limited and Temporary Purposes.--The prohibition under subsection (c) shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the following limited and temporary purposes:

(1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and affiliated international terrorist organizations.

(2) To provide security for United States Government personnel and infrastructure.

(3) To provide training to members of the Iraqi Security Forces who have not been involved in sectarian violence or in attacks upon the United States Armed Forces, provided that such training does not involve members of the United States Armed Forces taking part in combat operations or being embedded with Iraqi forces.

(4) To provide training, equipment, or other materiel to members of the United States Armed Forces to ensure, maintain, or improve their safety and security.

That was followed by an amendment from Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), to express the sense of Congress on the transition of the missions of United States Forces in Iraq to a more limited set of missions as specified by the President on September 13, 2007, which was also rejected because with a 50 to 45 vote with 5 not voting it was 10 votes short of the 60 vote threshold needed to pass it without a filibuster.

The text of that amendment (SA 3876) states:

SEC. __. It is the sense of Congress that the missions of the United States Armed Forces in Iraq should be transitioned to the more limited set of missions laid out by the President in his September 13, 2007, address to the Nation, that is, to counterterrorism operations and training, equipping, and supporting Iraqi forces, in addition to the necessary mission of force protection, with the goal of completing that transition by the end of 2008.

Back to the Wapo article:

Republicans then moved to pass an amendment that would take $31 billion for Afghanistan operations -- the only war-related funding in the House bill approved Monday -- and add almost $40 billion. The entire sum would be allocated for Pentagon use for any operation in its anti-terrorism efforts.

On that vote, 48 Republicans were joined by 21 Democrats and one independent in supporting Iraq funds, with 23 Democrats, one independent and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) opposed.

Roll call for that vote is here.

Those were not the only votes taken last night, at 11 pm they confirmed John Daniel Tinder, of Indiana, to be U.S. Circuit Judge with a vote of 93 to 0 with 7 not voting.

Reid also failed to get the votes needed in his last ditch attempt on a for the tax fix for the AMT, and the House has a vote scheduled for today to vote on a proposal to patch the AMT without paying for it, which would break the Democrats' Pay-Go pledge not to approve any tax measure or mandatory spending increase that adds to the federal budget deficit.

In regards to the AMT, they could just reduce spending, Don Surber shows them how, but I guess that is a less acceptable option than breaking their Pay-Go promise.

Jay from Stop the ACLU says "Surrendercrats Surrender" and Merry Christmas.