Vote on war-funding bill was personal for McNulty

Some liberal Democrats rejected the emergency supplemental bill last week because they thought it was too weak. Some conservative Democrats voted against it because they believed it went too far.

Rep. Michael McNulty (D-N.Y.) was thinking of his brother when he voted no.

In a statement, McNulty recounted how he testified against the Vietnam War at a congressional field hearing in the spring of 1970 during his first term as town supervisor of Green Island, N.Y.

“Several months after that testimony, my brother, HM3 William F. McNulty, a Navy medic, was killed in Quang Nam Province,” he said. “I have thought — many times since then — that if President Nixon had listened to the voices of reason back then, my brother Bill might still be alive.”

McNulty says that he made a “huge mistake” in voting to authorize military action in Iraq. “I will not compound that error by voting to authorize this war’s continuation,” he said. “On the contrary, I will do all that is within my power to end this war.” He counts the war in Iraq as one of the “biggest blunders in the history of warfare.”

McNulty, who is considered a centrist, was among the 14 Democrats who voted no. The others were Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Barbara Lee (Calif.), John Lewis (Ga.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike Michaud (Maine), Gene Taylor (Miss.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Diane Watson (Calif.) and Lynn Woolsey (Calif.).

Lee, a co-founder of the Out of Iraq Caucus, congratulated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after the vote on Friday. Earlier this month, there was tension between Lee and Pelosi when Lee vowed to oppose the bill in committee. But that tension had eased by last Friday, when they talked at length and embraced on the House floor after the vote was gaveled.

“By refusing to take responsibility for their failed policy in Iraq, the administration has effectively forced Congress to intervene to bring it to a responsible end,” Lee said in a statement. “Speaker Pelosi, Chairman [David] Obey (D-Wis.), [House Majority Whip] Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and the Democratic leadership deserve credit for recognizing this and for doing something that the Republican Congress refused to do for the last four years.”

Soon after the vote, an anti-war protester approached Lee about her stance. Lee noted that she voted no.

Meanwhile, Taylor voted against the bill because he did not like the idea of setting a timeline. The bill also included relief assistance for the Hurricane Katrina-battered Gulf Coast.

In an interview with the Biloxi Sun Herald, Taylor said he was confident the funding provisions would prevail in the Senate, where Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee.