House Approves Supplemental Spending Bill

Posted May 14, 2009 at 3:13pm

The House on Thursday approved the $96.7 billion war supplemental on a bipartisan vote of 368-60, with most Republicans joining most Democrats to back funding for Iraq, Afghanistan and for pandemic flu preparations.

Fifty-one Democrats and nine Republicans voted against the measure, meaning Democrats could not have passed supplemental without GOP support. The bill received lukewarm support from many Democrats, including its chief author, Appropriations Chairman David Obey (Wis.).

“This bill spends $97 billion because we’re in a mess,— Obey said. “This is a bill that I have very little confidence in,— he said, but added that he wanted to give President Barack Obama every opportunity to succeed.

Obey said Pakistan and Afghanistan governments “are corrupt, they are weak, they are chaotic, they appear to lack the cohesiveness and effectiveness to turn the countries around.—

Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, meanwhile, ripped the bill as offering up “endless war— in Afghanistan because it lacks a timetable for withdrawal. And they charged that the bill spent far more on the military than on humanitarian assistance and development aid.

Progressive Caucus members also complained about the closed rule that prevented them from offering amendments to the supplemental, but they nonetheless voted for the rule.

Democrats added to the supplemental restrictions on President Barack Obama’s authority to transport detainees from the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility to the United States. Republicans wanted a stronger prohibition, but ended up supporting, providing one of the most bipartisan votes of the year on a major bill.

The Senate is expected to vote on its $92 billion version of the supplemental bill next week.