Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Daily Strike-6/16/09-War Supplemental Bill

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Today's entry ranges from the nitty gritty to the hilarious, so get ready.

WAR SUPPLEMENTAL: What a great politics lesson on display today in the House of Representatives. Basically, we need to allocate funding for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of September. Our President promised funding for the IMF at the G20 summit and April. And there's that whole swine flu thing. Since Congress doesn't have that many opportunities to appropriate money until the annual appropriations bills are finalized in September. Therefore, Democratic leaders tried to put all of this funding in one giant bill. When the original bill passed the House last month, it was only money for military operations. The other funding was added in conference negotiations. The original bill enjoyed bipartisan support. All but 9 Republicans voted for the bill, as did about 200 Democrats. But, Republicans objected to funding for the IMF being included in this bill, calling it a "global bailout." (Just because they call it that, doesn't make it so, by the way). So Republicans decided to oppose the bill en bloc. 50 Democrats voted against the bill last time because they had promised their constituents that they wouldn't fund any more wars. So the leadership had a must-pass bill that was about 20 votes short of passing. That's where the political bargaining begins. Democratic leaders targeted members who voted against the original bill. We don't know for sure, but I bet some threats were involved (like withholding campaign money etc). The vote took place this evening, and I would guess that there was some serious haggling on the floor before the vote took place. Despite the fact that most members hate this bill for one reason or another, it passed by a vote of 226-202. When it became evident that the bill would ultimately pass, 5 Republicans abandoned the orders of their leadership and voted for the bill. 32 anti-war Democrats voted against the bill. That's the advantage of having a large majority, you can lose 32 votes and still pass a bill pretty comfortably. The good news in all of this is that the Democratic leadership in the House seems to have a good whipping operation. You want your members to fall in line when they have to. This will prove very important when health care and energy legislation come to the floor later this summer. Since today's vote was so important, I'll give you the crossover votes.

Republicans voting yes: Cao (LA), King (NY), Kirk (IL), McHugh (NY) and Miller (MI). McHugh has been appointed to be Secretary of the Army in the Obama administration. Probably not a good idea to vote against your future boss. The other four votes were from moderate members from vulnerable districts.

Democrats voting no: Baldwin (WI), Capuano (MA), Conyers (MI), Doggett (TX), Edwards (MD), Ellison (MN), Filner (CA), Grayson (FL), Grijalva (AZ), Honda (CA), Kaptur (OH), Kucinich (OH), Lee (CA), Lofgren (CA), Massa (NY), McGovern (MA), Michaud (ME), Payne (NJ), Pingree (ME), Polis (CA), Serrano (NY), Shea-Porter (NH), Sherman (CA), Speier (CA), Stark (CA), Tierney (MA), Tsongas (MA), Waters (CA), Watson (CA), Welch (VT), and Woolsey (CA).

If you're member wasn't on that list, they voted to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just thought you should know. The Senate will take up the conference report later this week, and the bill will presumably get to Obama's desk by Friday.

THE SENATE: The upper chamber took one vote today, a cloture vote on a motion to proceed to a bill to encourage foreign travel into the United States. The motion needed 60 votes to pass. It passed by a vote of 90-3, with only Republicans Bunning (KY), Coburn (OK) and DeMint (SC) voting no. Rumor has it that Democrats might try to attach an amendment to this otherwise non-controversial bill that would include the House-passed hate crimes legislation. As you might recall, that bill extended hate crime protection to victims of crimes based on sexual orientation. It's possible that the Senate will vote on this amendment on Thursday. I can't confirm whether they will actually vote on the amendment. This bill is very important to Senator Reid, the Majority Leader, because his home state of Nevada's economy is based largely on tourism. He may not want to risk derailing the bill because of a non-germane amendment. We'll keep you posted.

The big (and frankly, hilarious) news in the Senate today is that Nevada Republican John Ensign admitted having an extra-marital affair with a family friend and campaign staffer. Apparently, he was black-mailed into telling the truth. Once again, we have a born-again conservative, someone who supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, being caught in an affair. At the Strike, we try to stick to serious issues, but this is just too good to pass up. Ensign's political ambitions (he gave a speech in Iowa a few weeks ago) have been permanently dashed.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President had a mostly quiet day. He met this morning with the Prime Minister of South Korea. The two leaders pledged a strong partnership in fighting the increasingly aggressive North Koreans. He also sat down for interviews with CNBC and Bloomberg news, ahead of what is expected to be a major announcement on new regulatory policies. We will have full coverage of that announcement tomorrow. The President took time to bash Fox News, saying that they "are devoting to attacking my administration." I can't wait to see the crazies react on Fox tonight.

That's it for tonight. Leave us some comments! We'll see you tomorrow.

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