VICTORY AT HOME FOR IRAQ
President Bush emerged victorious over the Democrat majority by securing an Iraq spending bill that did not contain a withdrawal date or any tools to enable Congress to micromanage the war as Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) promised their base they would.
Through the week, Democrats tried desperately to convince media that they had not conceded anything to the White House. They insisted the bill was a sign that “progress” in the direction to withdrawing troops from Iraq. But, even the New York Times wouldn’t take the bait. The paper ran a headline that declared congressional Democrats had “ceded ground” to the White House.
The House version of the bill passed 280-142. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as promised, voted against the bill. The Senate version passed 80-14. The fourteen senators voting against the supplemental were: Sens. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.), Richard Burr (R.-N.C.), Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.), Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) Chris Dodd (D.-Conn.), Mike Enzi (R.-Wyo.), Russ Feingold (D.-Wisc.), Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.), John Kerry (D.-Mass.), Pat Leahy (D.-Vt.), Barack Obama (D.-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (D.-Bt.) Sheldon Whitehouse (D.-R..I) and Ron Wyden (D.-Ore.).
Sens. Sam Brownback (R.-Kans.), Norm Coleman (R.-Minn.), Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), Tim Johnson (D.-S.D), Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Craig Thomas (R.-Wyo.) voted “present.”
Democrats did manage to sneak one win into the bill, though—a provision to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 per hour. Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) said, “This needs to be the last time these kinds of extraneous matters are parachuted into appropriations bills.” The final version of the bill also contained $17 billion in extra spending--including $6.4 billion in hurricane aid and $3 billion in farm subsidies.
Chairman of the Republican Conference Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.) sneered at the Democrats’ talking points. He told reporters, “We stripped two of three and the spending is significantly reduced. I think that’s a pretty good work week. If it’s such a great deal [for Democrats] why isn’t Pelosi voting for it?”
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