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Local reps vote 4-1 on war-funding bill

June 19, 2008 - 6:18 pm

Even though it included greatly expanded educational benefits for military servicemembers, Congressmember Bob Filner, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, voted against a bill Thursday evening that guaranteed funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through June 2009.

The supplemental appropriations bill, which also included expanded benefits for unemployed Americans, some foreign aid and some disaster-relief money, passed in the House by a count of 268-155. Democrats voted 151-80 against, Republicans 188-4 in favor. Local Republicans Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa and Brian Bilbray voted for it, as did Democrat Susan Davis. In a written statement, Davis repeated her reasoning for continuing to vote for the funding:

“As a strong opponent of the war, voting for funding is not an easy vote. However, the responsible course is to realize that the President can, as he has in the past, fund his war using money from other accounts, with the effect of starving parts the personnel benefits package.

“Voting against funding may sound good as a political tactic for ending the war but is simply not good policy because it will not end the war and will only hurt military families.”

The vote reportedly followed negotiations between the White House, Democrat David Obey (chairman of the House Appropriations Committee) and House Republican Leader John Boehner, during which all sides made concessions on the domestic-policy elements of the bill.

The bill would give the president an additional $161.7 billion to spend on the wars during the next 12 months. In order to get it, he had to concede on the new benefits for GIs and the unemployment benefits. Under the bill, unemployed Americans would get a 13-week extension in benefits. In a concession of their own, Democrats agreed to a provision that requires beneficiaries to show they had worked 20 weeks before losing their jobs. They also gave up an additional 13-week extension for areas of the country hit harder by unemployment.

The GI education benefits, sought by Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, amount to $68.2 billion over the next 10 years. The president and the Pentagon worried that the new benefits would encourage too many servicemembers to leave the military and go to school.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Paul permalink
    June 20, 2008 - 12:13 pm 12:13 pm

    A closer look needs to be taken of Congressman Filner’s War Funding Vote: The issue was actually considered in two parts. Filner voted no on funding for the Iraq war. However, he voted for the other bill, which would provide improved GI bill benefits and and extend unemployment benefits. Appropriations bills are often complicated, and I am glad that atleast one member understands then and is willing to stand-up for our troops and fight to bring them home from a war we never should have started.

  2. David Rolland permalink*
    June 20, 2008 - 12:27 pm 12:27 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Joe. I simplified it because the two votes were linked together. Had the war funding failed, the other stuff would have failed as well. But, you’re right—it’s important to note that Filner and almost everyone else voted for the second part.

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