War Supplemental Conference Drops Bar to Release of Photos

As HUMAN EVENTS has been reporting all week, House Democrats have been playing politics with the War Supplemental Bill that funds the military efforts in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  The House and Senate versions of the bill moved into conference and House Democrats have been making substantial changes to the bill behind closed doors.  These changes have outraged the Senate and lost support from the entire Republican caucus that is usually a sure vote for passing troop funding.  

Democrats reduced the troop funding in the bill by $5 billion and added in $108 billion in unrestricted funds to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a global bailout package.  They also stripped out the Graham-Lieberman amendment language that would bar the release of terrorist detainee photos being sought after by the ACLU.

President Obama had been prepared to release those photos after a court ruled ACLU should receive them, but held back after military commanders — including CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus — told him that the release would probably cost the lives of American soldiers because they would inflame Islamic terrorists yet again.

Petraeus said, “An influx of foreign fighters from outside Afghanistan and new recruits from within Afghan could materialize, as the new photos serve as potent recruiting material to attract new members to join the insurgency. … Attacks against newly-arriving U.S. Marines and soon-to-arrive U.S. Army units in the south, and transitioning U.S. Army units in the east, could increase, thus further endangering the life and physical safety of military personnel in these regions.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) and her uber-liberal Democrat base last night won a 17-13 straight party-line vote in conference in favor of endangering U.S. troops.  The Speaker had put extreme pressure on the Democrat conferees to remove the amendment language to secure the uber-liberal voting bloc.  Republicans had refused to support the bill because of the billions of taxpayer dollars in unrestricted IMF loans to bailout foreign governments dropped in by the Democrats.  Without Republicans, the Speaker did not have the votes to pass the troop funding bill.  Now that the bill doesn’t contain the measure to protect the troops, she’ll be more likely to get the votes she needs for passage from the large contingent of far-left Democrats.

In a conference meeting, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) read a letter from Obama saying that taking out the language was okay with him because he was appealing the case to the Supreme Court.  The 2nd Circuit Court has stayed the order to release the photos pending the outcome in the Supreme Court.  Passage of the amendment would have ensured the outcome of the case, in effect classifying the documents for a period of three years.  Now, the outcome is uncertain.

By voting to pass the mangled bill out of conference, House Democrats are officially on record as voting against our commanders on the ground and in favor of inciting terrorists that will almost certainly cause the deaths of American troops.

I spoke with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) yesterday afternoon about the bizarre logic behind the push to release these photos and close Guantanamo Bay.

Kyl told me, “I find it a little ironic that they’re very concerned about the symbolic effect of Guantanamo prison and the potential effect in recruiting terrorists but seem not to be at all worried about what General Odierno and General Petraeus said would specifically represent a threat to our troops in the release of the photos.”

Pelosi’s Poll Numbers Remain in the Tank

The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll has Pelosi at a whopping 29% approval rating with 47% of respondents disapproving of her performance.

You can find the new poll here. (pdf)

Polling was conducted by telephone June 9-10, 2009, in the evenings. The total sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3percentage points.

Pence Honors Cheney

At a private meeting yesterday sponsored by the House Republican Conference Theme Team, former Vice President Dick Cheney was the honored guest.  Sources who had been in the meeting told HUMAN EVENTS that House Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) praised Cheney for getting back into the arena.

“Mr. Vice President, we are grateful to have you back in the Capitol but we are even more grateful to have you back in the public debate,” Pence told Cheney.  “With the onslaught of the most liberal one-party government in American history, your voice during this challenging time is invaluable.  And even with your historic career in public service, I believe your role in this moment may be your greatest contribution to the cause of conservatism.”

Electric Power Gets more expensive

Duke Energy, one of the nation’s largest electric power companies, has petitioned the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a residential rate increase of 13.5 percent.  The power giant cites as part of their request the coming infrastructure expenses that will be incurred from the cap on greenhouse gas emissions created under the Waxman-Markey “cap and trade” bill. Commercial and institutional users would see rates rise 9.7 percent.  Industries would be hit hardest, with a 15.2 percent rate increase.  Commercial and industrial increases would result in increased costs in producing the goods and services.  Those costs are passed on to consumers.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), ranking Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee, spoke out yesterday about the coming onslaught of energy rate hikes from every sector.

“The bill hasn’t even hit the floor of the House, and higher utility rates are already being proposed,” Camp said. “This is a bad bill that is very harmful to families already struggling to make ends meet.  Before we rush to a vote on this energy tax, we need to know how many other companies are going to increase rates on their customers.”

 “Extreme spikes in electricity prices are a major concern, especially to the constituents we represent,” Camp added.  “It is critical that we hear from these companies about just how high rates are going to go before we vote on this legislation.”