Iraq vote slated for today as Pelosi closes in on 218

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), a former Black Panther who now represents one of the most liberal districts in the nation, decided yesterday to support the Iraq war supplemental spending bill because he was promised help with an issue “unrelated” to the bill. 

“Let bygones be bygones,” Rush said. He kept mum about what assurances he received from House leaders but reaffirmed he would vote for the bill when it comes to the House floor today.

House Democratic leaders rested a bit easier yesterday after members of the Progressive and Out of Iraq caucuses announced they would stop whipping against the bill, most members of the Congressional Black Caucus signed a letter supporting specific provisions within the bill, and a handful of undecided Democrats announced they would support the $124 billion bill.

The lawmakers who made up or changed their minds said they decided that passing a bill is better than doing nothing and that failing to pass the bill would deal a devastating blow to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Democrats have not mended the rifts between the caucuses’ loud anti-war factions and those lawmakers from Republican-leaning districts wary of being accused of micro-managing the war in Iraq. But it appears that the reality of governing and having to choose has set in.

“We have to lead,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), who has been whipping the bill. “This vote will have ramifications on many other issues.”

The leaders picked up some big votes yesterday.

Rep. James. McGovern (D-Mass.), a member of the Rules Committee, announced on the House floor yesterday that he would support the supplemental because passage of the bill, which includes a date certain to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, is better than doing nothing.

Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.), who faced an anti-war primary challenger in 2006, also announced he would support the measure, as did Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).

Another liberal lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said he decided to vote for the bill so as not to deliver a blow to House Democratic leaders.

Democrats conducted a full-court press to persuade undecided lawmakers. 

In the Capitol basement, Pelosi buttonholed Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). Later, on the House floor, she could be seen — all smiles — chatting with Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), who has been helping round up votes. Later on yesterday, Pelosi was again pressing Jackson Lee.

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a close Pelosi ally, talked to Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), while Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) spoke to Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.).

Meanwhile, Republicans circulated to reporters a list of 29 Democrats who might oppose the bill. Democrats said the list was four days old.

The lobbying was intense. Two House Democrats said the leaders dangled the possibility of reversing decisions made by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and AFL-CIO Chairman John Sweeney called individual lawmakers, while Democratic leaders lobbied members in phone calls and on the House floor. 

Democratic aides and lawmakers said those who were once dead-set against voting for the bill are now in the undecided column: Reps. Steve Cohen (Tenn.) and Lloyd Doggett (Texas.).

Democrats were seeking support from Republicans as well. Ruppersberger said he had spoken to Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) but would not say how his fellow Marylander would vote. If Bartlett decides to support the bill, Ruppersberger added, it will be because of his conscience and not anything the Democrats could offer him.

But there is little chance of any bipartisan cooperation in the future. Claiming that Democrats were breaking the long-standing tradition of allowing amendments to appropriations bills. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) yesterday said on the House floor that “all bets are off” regarding bipartisan cooperation on appropriations bills this year.

He added that Republicans would not agree to any unanimous-consent requests.

Within the Democratic Caucus, the vote has become a test of the new leadership’s ability to maintain party discipline and the aura of power.

“The authority of the Speaker always has been political,” said Cal Mackenzie, a political scientist at Colby College, adding that former Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-Texas) was successful for 20 years because lawmakers held him in such high esteem.
The late Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) used to say that Rayburn could call five big-city mayors and start with 150 votes, said Stanley Brand, a former aide to O’Neill. 

“There are not that many carrots and sticks, and once you use them they’re gone,” said Brand. “The Speaker has power, but if she has to use it, she may start to eviscerate it.” 

Democratic aides have speculated that Pelosi might penalize wayward lawmakers by yanking them off of committees. She apparently did not invite Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who voted against the bill in the Appropriations Committee, to return last weekend to California with her.

 


House Democrats’ positions on war funding bill

 

Yes or leaning yes
Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii)
Michael Arcuri (N.Y.)
Joe Baca (Calif.)
Melissa Bean (Ill.)
Sanford Bishop Jr. (Ga.)
Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)
Leonard Boswell (Iowa)
Nancy Boyda (Kan.)
Corrine Brown (Fla.)
Lois Capps (Calif.)
Dennis Cardoza (Calif.)
Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)
Peter DeFazio (Ore.)
Chet Edwards (Texas)
Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)
Phil Hare (Ill.)
Jane Harman (Calif.)
Stephanie Herseth (S.D.)
Tim Mahoney (Fla.) (leaning yes)
Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) (leaning yes)
Steve Kagen (Wis.)
Carolyn Kilpatrick (Mich.)
Ron Kind (Wis.)
Tom Lantos (Calif.)
John Larson (Conn.)
Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.)
James McGovern (Mass.)
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.)
Hilda Solis (Calif.)
Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio)
Tim Walz (Minn.)
Charlie Wilson (Ohio)
Peter Welch (Vt.)
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.)
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.)
Baron Hill (Ind.)
Tim Holden (Pa.)
Rush Holt (N.J.)
William Jefferson (La.)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)
Hank Johnson (Ga.)
Nick Lampson (Texas)
David Loebsack (Iowa)
Jim Matheson (Utah)
Doris Matsui (Calif.)
Jim McDermott (Wash.)
Mike McIntyre (N.C.)
Jerry McNerney (Calif.)
Gwen Moore (Wis.)
Dennis Moore (Kan.)
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.)
Zack Space (Ohio)
Gene Taylor (Miss.)
Mike Thompson (Calif.)
Nydia Velasquez (N.Y.)
Maxine Waters (Calif.)
Mel Watt (N.C.)
Henry Waxman (Calif.)

 

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