Thursday, March 22, 2007

Iraq Supplemental Likely to Pass; Deepen Division

I've followed the saga of House Democrats first promising to make the vote on the Iraq supplemental 'a vote of conscience,' followed by their threats not to let the Republicans win, and leading into real arm-twisting. Both the Politico and the Hill suggest that they're where they need to be to pass the bill on Friday. First the Hill:

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), a former Black Panther who now represents one of the most liberal districts in the nation, decided yesterday to support the Iraq war supplemental spending bill because he was promised help with an issue “unrelated” to the bill.

“Let bygones be bygones,” Rush said. He kept mum about what assurances he received from House leaders but reaffirmed he would vote for the bill when it comes to the House floor today...

The lobbying was intense. Two House Democrats said the leaders dangled the possibility of reversing decisions made by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and AFL-CIO Chairman John Sweeney called individual lawmakers, while Democratic leaders lobbied members in phone calls and on the House floor.

Democratic aides and lawmakers said those who were once dead-set against voting for the bill are now in the undecided column: Reps. Steve Cohen (Tenn.) and Lloyd Doggett (Texas.)...

Democratic aides have speculated that Pelosi might penalize wayward lawmakers by yanking them off of committees. She apparently did not invite Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who voted against the bill in the Appropriations Committee, to return last weekend to California with her.

So Barbara Lee switched her vote because she would have to fly commercial air, and not the Speaker's plane? I doubt she was bought off that easily. And Bobby Rush - who's pushed for affirmative action in NCAA sports hires (among other things) - got something. Some unnamed Members got help keeping open bases that DoD says are superfluous. Nothing wrong with throwing around some taxpayer money, right?

The Politico makes it sound as if the Out of Iraqers folded completely. Or at least, their leaders did:

Four prominent liberal Democrats said Thursday they have given House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) the support she needs to pass the $124 billion wartime spending bill, even though they remain steadfastly opposed to any additional funding for the war.

California Democrats Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey and Diane E. Watson said they did not want to stand in the way of the bill and have urged other liberal lawmakers to vote for it...

Pelosi approached the progressives and asked them to help her change lawmakers’ minds, two Democratic aides said. And they have finalized a deal to deliver the needed support.

“After two grueling weeks of meetings, progressive members of Congress brought forth an agreement that provided the momentum to pass a supplemental spending bill that, for the first time, establishes a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq,” the four California congresswomen said in a statement.

One well-placed Democratic aide said Pelosi had approached the progressives asking them to supply four votes, but that they ultimately pledged to deliver about ten. It was unclear whether the progressives received any concessions in return...

So they finally saw the merits of Pelosi's arguments? I admit: that is at least a possibility. Or more accurately, the support of MoveOn and other liberal grassroots groups may have convinced them that support for the bill is the politically safe vote. Still, it's unlikely that so many Members would have caved so quickly for nothing.

As I've noted, House Democrats have to scrounge for votes among Blue Dogs in marginal seats because they've been stiffed by some liberals in safe seats. The Hill gives a list of those Democrats in the 'leaning yes' column, and they include some in swing seats who will be attacked by their Republican challengers for this vote. They include Tim Walz, Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy, Tim Mahoney, Stephanie Herseth, Kirsten Gilliband, and Nancy Boyda. I suspect that in Pelosi's perfect world, some of those Members would be voting no, while more liberal would be voting yes.

Update: MSNBC asks if Pelosi has 218. As noted, she won't. Assuming it passes, it'll be with 216 or 217 - something like that.

1 comment:

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