Before I start, I would like to take a moment to point out two Republicans that broke rank with their party to vote against the unconditional funding of the war. Those two members are, Ron Paul of Texas and John Duncan of Tennessee. I’ve never voted for a Republican in a Federal race in my life, and don’t see an instance where I ever would, but these gentlemen showed a level of independence and intestinal fortitude that the 86 members voting aye in the Democratic majority should take as an example. Despite my general disagreement with much that these gentlemen espouse, I think they deserve some credit.
Now to the meat…
The vote is recorded under House Roll Call #425. There were 86 members of the Democratic caucus that voted for the Iraq funding amendment. Of those, 52 are either members of the Hand Wringing Democrats or the DINO Coalition. I’m not going to waste any more time on these members. They have made their positions known by their membership in these groups. It is interesting to note that 23 New Democrats and 7 Blue Dogs did not vote for the supplemental (some of these Representatives are members of both groups).
There were 34 Democratic Representatives who voted for the supplemental that are not affiliated with either voting bloc. Of those 34, 8 are 1st termers. They are:
Altmire – PA
Boyda – KS
Carney – PA
Giffords – AZ
Kagen – WI
Sestak – PA
Space – OH
Walz – MN
In their own words…
Altmire – “We need a Congress that will fulfill its constitutional responsibility for oversight and accountability. Our troops were sent to war without the equipment they needed and Congress shortchanged veterans benefits even as a whole new generation of veterans has been created.”
Boyda – “We don’t have the troops, and we don’t have the equipment,” she said. “We don’t have the option of staying the course. We’ve got to stop making decisions based on where we wish we were. We’re not there, and we need to be able to make decisions based on reality.” – The Joplin Globe
Carney – At least he’s consistent. Carney never ran on getting out of Iraq. Read this NYT article.
Giffords – There isn’t much on her campaign site specifically about Iraq funding except this press release from before the election:“While the courage of our troops embodies the best of America, the poor management of the war in Iraq embodies what is wrong with Washington today,” Giffords said. “We can’t simply ’stay the course.’ We need a Congress willing to ask the tough questions and an Administration willing to answer those questions in order to develop a plan for success.”
She’s getting hammered from the left and the right (mostly right, robo calls start today…it IS Arizona after all). Apparently, being the hottest candidate in ’06 doesn’t get you much slack.
Kagen – Kagen ran on ending the war, but was never in favor of defunding. Here’s his apology/excuse for his vote yesterday.
Sestak – From his website: “There is a prompt way out of Iraq, and I believe that failing to do so means significantly hurting our other, more important long term interests in the world. Contrary to the Bush Administration’s claims, Iraq is not the central front in terrorism. Rather it is a result of our leadership forgetting the age-old axiom that “successful generals win first, then they go to war.” In short, we did not adequately plan for that before we went into Iraq and we are still there because of it, without a realistic strategy out. The only way is to use our disengagement as the catalyst for Iraqis and other regional nations to accept their responsibilities for a relative peace. U.S. interests in the world do not include pouring endless amounts of our national treasure of lives and money into elusive, endless goals, when we have so much else to achieve in this world.”
Guess he changed his mind…
Space – If cutting off your nose to spite your face is a political platform, this statement pretty much sums it up.:“As much as I would like to see all of the troops withdrawn immediately, we simply cannot abandon our efforts in Iraq. We owe it to the law abiding people of Iraq who want freedom and democracy, and more than anything, we owe it to the thousands of U.S. troops that have sacrificed so much.”
Sacrificed so much that we need to sacrifice more to finish what?
I’m not going to harp on this too much, these guys are new but still should know better. It’s interesting to me that so much weight was put on some of these new members (particularly Sestak and Giffords) and their impact on the Democratic Majority when the other 33 Democratic freshmen saw fit to remain consistent with the positions that helped get them elected. It’s also interesting if not counterintuitive to me that while 7 of them were for either redeployment, removal from Iraq, or some kind of increased Congressional oversight they still chose to vote for THIS supplemental.
While it’s disappointing that these 8 members voted against the interests of the people and the soldiers deployed in Iraq, their 8 votes wouldn’t have changed anything. In fact, based on their districts, and their backgrounds (4 have military experience) it’s not that far out of character. Additionally, because these are new Representatives, perhaps there’s some reluctance to really stick their necks out there until they have another election under their belts.
These are not excuses, just things I think about when wanting to wail on someone. They played it “safe” in conventional wisdom/MSM terms, but it still can come back to haunt them.
The real villains here are the 78 more experienced members whose votes would have made the difference, and who should have known better.
I’ll get to them in my next post.