On October 30, by a vote of 298 to 121, the House approved President Bush’s request for an $87-billion spending package for the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The vote was on the version of the emergency supplemental military appropriations bill (H.R. 3289) agreed upon by House and Senate negotiators. The Senate passed an identical bill days later, and President Bush signed it (November 6.)
“It has been said that there is no exit strategy, and that there is no plan,” Rep. Bill Young (R.-Fla.) said of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. “The fact is, there is an exit strategy, and that is to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan so that our troops can exit and exit safely, and so that the people of Iraq can have a quality of life. They did not have a quality of life prior to the United States liberating that nation from the tentacles of Saddam Hussein, who had destroyed millions of his own people in one way or another, who had gone to war with his neighbor in Iran, who has invaded Kuwait, and who threatened Saudi Arabia.”
Speaking of the Iraq invasion, Young subtly ribbed House Democrats for supporting the invasion, then threatening to block funding for reconstruction.
“I think we will find in the long range that this is going to be beneficial to the world,” he said.
Young pointed out that $65 billion of the $87 billion in the bill was going directly to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq-to pay them and pay for their weapons. The bill, he said, also forbade use of U.S. funds to pay interest or principal on debt incurred by Saddam Hussein. He added that the bill had other pro-soldier provisions. “Remember the outrage that we all expressed when we found out that soldiers, wounded in battle, in a military hospital, were charged $8.10 a day for the food that they consumed while in the hospital?” he asked. “This bill fixes it permanently. And it makes it retroactive, so anybody who was billed for their food while recovering from battle wounds will get their money back if they paid those charges.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) argued against the bill. “[I]t is not a question as to whether we support the troops,” Pelosi said of her opposition to paying and arming them while they are in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Democrats offered an alternative that would have spent an additional $4.6 billion to protect U.S. forces and converted half of the reconstruction loans to loans through the World Bank, thereby costing U.S. taxpayers less, avoiding an increase in the deficit, and encouraging greater international participation.”
President Bush issued a veto threat against that Democratic alternative because it would have transferred so much power to the World Bank, whose dramatic failures in building economies are well known-as in Argentina, for example.
Some Republicans who supported the war have also noted that it would only fuel anti-American sentiment if the U.S. demands repayment for reconstruction. After imposing sanctions for years and then invading the country, they have said, it is America’s responsibility to rebuild and get commitments from other countries-like France and Germany-to forgive Iraqi debt incurred by Saddam Hussein.
A “yes” vote was a vote for President Bush’s request of $87 billion for reconstruction and continued operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A “no” vote was a vote against the bill.
|FOR THE BILL: 298||AGAINST THE BILL: 121|
|REPUBLICANS FOR: 216
Davis, Jo Ann
DEMOCRATS FOR: 82
|REPUBLICANS AGAINST: 5
DEMOCRATS AGAINST: 115
INDEPENDENTS AGAINST: 1
NOT VOTING: 15
|REPUBLICANS (7):||DEMOCRATS (8):||INDEPENDENTS (0)|