Senate Republicans Block Troop Funding

In a show of brazen partisanship, Senate Republicans voted against cloture on HR 4156, a bill that provides emergency spending for troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The measure, which would provide $50 billion of additional funding, failed on cloture by a vote of 53-45. 4 Republicans, Collins and Snowe of Maine, Hagel of Nebraska, and Smith of Oregon, joined the majority in support of the measure. Smith and Collins face tough re-election battles in 2008, which may have contributed to the break with their party.

In addition to the 44 Republicans, Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) also voted against the measure. Lieberman has long been a supporter of administration policy in Iraq, despite his decision to caucus with Democrats.

In response to the vote, White House Deputy Press Secretary, Tony Fratto said: (Source)

“DOD would have to eat into their annual budget and I believe that still presents difficulties in getting the troops in the field the resources they need to carry out their mission.”

“We’d rather see the Department of Defense, the military planners and our troops focusing on military maneuvers, rather than accounting maneuvers as they carry out their mission in the field,” Fratto said. “I think Congress should send this money, allow these troops to get the equipment they need. There is no reason why they should not get the money. This isn’t like this is a last-minute effort and call for funding.”

In rejecting the emergency spending Senate Republicans have put the security of our military forces, deployed in harsh circumstances, at risk.

This is my attempt to show that news can be spun either way if one so desires. Cherry picking information is easy. Nowhere in the above article did I mention anything but troop funding. This places the Republican minority in a position of defense, which is exactly where they need to be. Our Democratic leaders in both the House and the Senate need to get better at this.

In the same article, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are quoted as saying:

“Our troops continue to fight and die valiantly. And our Treasury continues to be depleted rapidly, for a peace that we seem far more interested in achieving than Iraq’s own political leaders,” said Reid, D-Nev.

and:

“The days of a free lunch are over,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

While I support both of these statements, they represent a poor use of the bully pulpit their leadership in the Senate provides. Both of these statements support the frame that we need to get out of Iraq, which we do, however, both need to be followed up with declarations supporting the troops over a disastrous administration policy.

By framing the Republican minority against troop funding we further marginalize the minority and exert pressure on them to change their votes in future conditional funding battles. No it ain’t pretty, but it’s past time that we start playing hard ball, both on the floor and in the media.

Until we start holding their feet to the fire, Republicans will continue their obstructionist maneuvering in the Senate, potentially hampering our ability to maintain the momentum we gained in the 2006 mid-terms.

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