Votes, days tick away on Iraq bill

House Democratic leaders pressed undecided lawmakers yesterday to support the Iraq war supplemental spending bill, which House leaders expect to vote on this evening.   

ADVERTISEMENT
But the House Rules Committee had not met by late yesterday afternoon, a clear indication that Democratic leaders do not yet have the votes to pass the bill. House rules require lawmakers to have 24 hours to read legislation before it is considered on the floor, so the later the Rules Committee meets, the later Thursday or possibly Friday the House would vote.

“We’re close, but not there yet,” a House Democratic leadership aide conceded.

Senior Democratic lawmakers predicted they would have the votes before going to the floor, but conceded that, like the previous Republican majority, they might have to proceed without the requisite number of votes already in the bag and hope that the act of voting would persuade lawmakers to support their leaders’ bill.

Anti-war liberals are not optimistic about defeating the $124 billion measure. “It probably will [pass],” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), the co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus and a founding member of the Out of Iraq Caucus. “If it goes to Rules they probably do have the votes.”

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the Democratic Caucus chairman, said, “Thursday or Friday, we’ll have the vote this week.”
The leadership’s vote round-up was given a boost this week by MoveOn.org’s decision to back the bill, which gave liberal lawmakers cover, and by the support of former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), who wrote in a letter to members of Congress, “This resolution provides a light at the end of the tunnel. It is not perfect, but it moves our national debate forward.”

Democratic leaders have held dozens of formal and informal meetings this week as they tried to get to 218 votes. President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, encouraged House Democrats yesterday to support the supplemental spending bill.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) spoke to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) yesterday to make the case for the supplemental. While most of the 21 members will probably vote for the supplemental, some are undecided.

The Massachusetts delegation met on Tuesday to discuss the supplemental, but two undecided lawmakers, Reps. James McGovern and Michael Capuano, did not attend. Despite the liberals’ glum forecast and consultations, getting to 218 votes is not going to be easy for leadership.

“This is not an issue where it’s going to be easy to move people [because it’s a question of what you believe],” Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said, adding that lawmakers who vote against the measure will survive politically.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated to McDermott on Tuesday in a brief conversation that she would like him to support the measure. McDermott said he is undecided.

He was not the only one making up his mind, or playing coy about what he intended to do when the bill hit the floor. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said he had made up his mind, but he would not say which way. Freshman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who attended a press conference earlier this month with opponents of the supplemental, also told reporters he had made up his mind how he would vote, but he was not willing to tell.

“I’m not ready to discuss it,” he said. “I have made up my mind, but I’m still listening.”

Ellison told Brzezinski that voting for the bill is a vote for the war. Brzezinski replied that voting against the bill would continue the war and send the wrong message to the Iraqi government.

Some lawmakers were considering voting “present,” which would lower the vote total needed, meaning they wouldn’t be voting for the funding, but would still ease its passage.

“I’ve heard that there’s been some talk about that,” said Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), a liberal member of both the Progressive and Out of Iraq caucuses. Woolsey said, “To me, ‘present’ is a non-vote.”

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) dismissed the idea, saying, “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Most of the people who are undecided are not wimps.”

Reps. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.) and Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) are expected to miss the vote because of health reasons.
Hinchey also said members have been told that if the bill fails, Democratic leaders would submit a bill with the president’s request that would pass with the help of Republicans.

“If this doesn’t pass, whatever we do pass is going to be much weaker,” Hinchey said.

House GOP leaders sent a letter to Pelosi yesterday requesting that the supplemental be considered under an open rule and that the Speaker allow four days of debate.

Heidi Bruggink, Alex Harrison and Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.

Progressives and Blue Dogs weigh in on war-funding bill

Yes or leaning yes
Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii)
Michael Arcuri (N.Y.)
Joe Baca (Calif.)
Melissa Bean (Ill.)
Nancy Boyda (Kan.)
Corrine Brown (Fla.)
Dennis Cardoza (Calif.)
Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)
Peter DeFazio (Ore.)
Chet Edwards (Texas)
Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)
Phil Hare (Ill.)
Tim Mahoney (Fla.) (leaning yes)
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) (leaning yes)
Steve Kagen (Wis.)
Tom Lantos (Calif.)
John Larson (Conn.)
Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.)
Charlie Melancon (La.)
George Miller (Calif.)
Juanita Millender-McDonald (Calif.)
Chris Murphy (Conn.)
Patrick Murphy (Pa.)
Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.)
Donald Payne (N.J.)
John Salazar (Colo.)
Loretta Sanchez (Calif.)
Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)
David Scott (Ga.)
Joe Sestak (Pa.)
Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.)
Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
Tim Walz (Minn.)
Charlie Wilson (Ohio)
Al Wynn (Md.)

No or leaning no
Dan Boren (Okla.) (leaning no)
Keith Ellison (Minn.) (leaning no)
Dennis Kucinich (Ohio)
Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas)
Barbara Lee (Calif.)
John Lewis (Ga.)
Jim Marshall (Ga.)
Pete Stark (Calif.)
Edolphus Towns (N.Y.)
Lynn Woolsey (Calif.)

Undecided/no comment
Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)
John Barrow (Ga.)
Sanford Bishop Jr. (Ga.)
Leonard Boswell (Iowa)
Mike Capuano (Mass.)
Julia Carson (Ind.)
Chris Carney (Pa.)
Jim Cooper (Tenn.)
Lacy Clay (Mo.)
Steve Cohen (Tenn.)
John Conyers Jr. (Mich.)
Henry Cuellar (Texas)
Elijah Cummings (Md.)
Danny Davis (Ill.)
Lincoln Davis (Tenn.)
William Delahunt (Mass.)
Lloyd Doggett (Texas)
Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
Brad Ellsworth (Ind.)
Chaka Fattah (Pa.)
Bob Filner (Calif.
Barney Frank (Mass.)
Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)
John Hall (N.Y.)
Jane Harman (Calif.)
Stephanie Herseth (S.D.)
Baron Hill (Ind.)
Tim Holden (Pa.)
Rush Holt (N.J.)
William Jefferson (La.)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)
Hank Johnson (Ga.)
Ron Kind (Wis.)
Nick Lampson (Texas)
David Loebsack (Iowa)
Jim Matheson (Utah)
Doris Matsui (Calif.)
Jim McDermott (Wash.)
James McGovern (Mass.)
Mike McIntyre (N.C.)
Jerry McNerney (Calif.)
Gwen Moore (Wis.)
Dennis Moore (Mo.)
Jim Oberstar (Minn.)
Collin Peterson (Minn.)
Charles Rangel (N.Y.)
Bobby Rush (Ill.)
Mike Ross (Ark.)
Linda Sanchez (Calif.)
Bobby Scott (Va.)
Heath Shuler (N.C.)
Hilda Solis (Calif.)
Zack Space (Ohio)
Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio)
Gene Taylor (Miss.)
Mike Thompson (Calif.)
Nydia Velasquez (N.Y.)
Maxine Waters (Calif.)
Mel Watt (N.C.)
Henry Waxman (Calif.)
Peter Welch (Vt.)