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Democrats Forced to Cheat to Fund War


By David Swanson

The Democratic leadership in the House had to resort to an unusual and underhanded tactic to pass war funding Thursday night.

Congress has long tended to pass unrelated measures in combination with war bills, and usually some of these measures, such as funding schools, jobs, veterans care, or disaster relief, provide excuses for some "anti-war" Democrats to vote for the war funding. But including good things with war bills can lead the Republicans to vote No. When they all do that, as they did last June, no more than about 40 Democrats can vote No or the bill fails. Last June, the leadership and the White House were able to threaten and bribe enough Democrats to vote yes on a bill that funded both war and an IMF banker bailout. Only 32 Democrats voted No. On Thursday the House leadership couldn't do that because over 40 Democrats refused to be bought off. In fact, at least 51, and reportedly 80 to 90 had committed to voting No.

In theory, this should have resulted in separating the pig of war funding from the lipstick of domestic spending. Both would then, in theory, have easily passed the House as separate bills, with the domestic spending facing an uncertain fate in the Senate as long as the leadership over there keeps the filibuster rule in place. It would also have forced the Democratic leadership to pass the war funding with more Republican votes than Democratic.

THE SELF-EXECUTING RULE

But that's not what happened. Instead the Democratic Leadership produced something called a self-executing rule. Typically, the House will vote on a rule for how a bill will be voted on, vote on amendments if the rule permits any, and then vote on the bill. In this self-executing rule, the bill was to be considered passed if at least one amendment to it was approved. Otherwise it was to be considered dead. Either way, there would be no vote on the bill. There was, however, a vote on the rule. But here's the catch: it isn't considered polite and appropriate to vote against a rule, and Americans are not expected to notice how anyone votes on a rule. It's not a bill, but a procedural matter -- never mind if the procedure is to pass war funding without another vote.

So, we watched Republicans like Ron Paul speak against the war and the rule, other Republicans speak in support of the war and against the rule, and Democrats speak against the war and in support of the rule that would fund it. We saw Democrats, like Congresswoman Maxine Waters, speak in support of the rule that would fund the war on the grounds that she would then get a chance to vote for an amendment to defund the war. Think about that. Rather than blocking war funding, you support it in order to vote for a doomed amendment which if passed would have to be approved by the Senate and the President too. Not a single Democrat -- even those who would vote against the rule -- spoke against it.

In the end 38 Democrats, including very few progressives, voted No on the rule, which passed 215 to 210. That's suspiciously close, and suggests that the leadership permitted those votes but no more.

In fact, the Hill reports:

"Party leaders were forced to hold open the vote for several minutes, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could be seen huddling with Reps. Steve Cohen (Tenn.) and Paul Kanjorski (Penn.), the last Democratic holdouts. Both cast 'yes' votes to push the motion over the top. When it was clear the measure had passed, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) switched her vote from 'yes' to 'no.' The final total was 215-210, with 8 lawmakers not voting. Cohen told The Hill earlier in the week that he was disinclined to support a war funding bill after bowing to pressure from party leaders who needed him to switch his vote from 'no' to 'yes' a year ago."

ESCALATING WAR, CUTTING SOCIAL SECURITY

According to Congressman John Tierney, we now have 88,000 troops and 110,000 contractors in Afghanistan. The $33.5 billion in war funding is to send 30,000 more troops, plus more contractors, to Afghanistan (some of whom are already there pre-funding). This was the vote to fund the escalation that was debated in the U.S. media a half year ago. That passage of time allowed this vote to come in the context of a debate in which almost no one mentioned the word "escalation", no one at all objected to the President having gone ahead with an unfunded escalation, and -- on the contrary -- various congress members from both parties swore they had to "support the troops" and others, such as Republican Congressmen Buck McKeon and Jerry Lewis, asserted their responsibility to obey "our Commander in Chief" as if the first branch of our government is now a branch of the military.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi slipped a surprising measure into a budget that was passed as part of the rule, a measure requiring that the House vote on any proposals -- whatever they may be -- that are proposed by the president's deficit commission, if those proposals are passed by the Senate. As Jane Hamsher immediately pointed out:

"The commission, co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, is packed with members who favor the raising the retirement age to 70, means testing, and private accounts. Many also support investing 20% of the Social Security trust fund in the stock market. It's ironic that yesterday Pelosi sent out press releases criticizing John Boehner for expressing the very same positions on cutting Social Security benefits that Jim Clyburn, Joe Biden, and Steny Hoyer have. She's putting this language into the rule in order to deflect responsibility from herself when it comes to the floor for a vote during a lame duck session, since without her approval that could never happen."

AMENDMENTS: 162 WANT SOME ROLE FOR CONGRESS

Following the lead of Congressman Jim McGovern, many peace organizations declined during the past half year to put their full energies behind demanding No votes on war funding. Instead, many stressed the introduction of anti-war amendments, arguing that we could get more votes that way. Moving three more congress members to vote against the rule would have sent the strongest message possible, but once that failed, there were four amendments to vote on Thursday night, three of them related to the war. The leadership had a way to handle these as well: take them up late at night, past filing deadlines for newspaper stories.

One was an amendment to eliminate military funding from the bill. This failed 25 to 376 with 22 voting "present."

Another was to limit military funding to withdrawal. This failed by acclamation, and Congressman Anthony Weiner, chairing the proceedings, moved on to the next amendment before anyone requested a count of the vote. So we don't even now what the number of Yes votes was here. [UPDATE: A vote was recorded: 100 to 321.]

The third amendment, McGovern's, was to require the president to present Congress with 1) a new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan by January 31, 2011 and 2) a plan by April 4, 2011, on "the safe, orderly and expeditious redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, including a timeframe for the completion of the redeployment." In addition -- and this was a late addition to the amendment strengthening it considerably -- Congress would be required to vote by July 2011 "if it wants to allow the obligation and expenditure of funds for Afghanistan in a manner that is not consistent with the president's announced policy of December 2009 to begin to drawdown troops by July 2011." This amendment failed by a vote of 162 to 260.

The 162 included a handful of Republicans and represented a significant number of congress members willing to at least go on record as somewhat favoring minimal involvement for Congress in one of its chief areas of responsibility: war. I say "somewhat" because we don't know how many of the 162 would still have voted Yes if pressured by the leadership not to.

The non-war-related amendment, to fund teachers and disaster relief, passed 239 to 181 with 1 voting "present." This vote, heavily promoted by teachers' unions -- which tended never to mention the war funding -- guaranteed passage of the war funding, since the rule required that at least one amendment pass.

THE SENATE AND THE PRESIDENT

The Senate is out of session for the anti-imperial imperial holiday of July 4th. It will have to deal with the House bill, which differs from the Senate version.

The President on Thursday threatened to veto the bill because of an item in the teachers and disaster relief amendment. Congress is careful to pay for non-war items with cuts elsewhere, while funding wars on a Chinese credit card. In order to pay for funds to save some teachers from layoffs at US schools, the amendment took away a small fraction of a slush fund used by the Secretary of Education to encourage corporatist approaches to education. Let's hope that, if the Senate doesn't strip out the offending provision for him, our president follows through and blocks an escalation of a war.

*****

UPDATE: How they voted:

The Peace Movement's Progress.

Democrats forced to cheat to fund war.

Live blog of the vote.

How they voted on the Rule.
Democrats who voted No:
Adler (NJ), Berry, Boccieri, Bright, Childers, Conyers, Driehaus, Filner, Foster, Giffords, Grayson, Grijalva, Halvorson, Herseth Sandlin, Himes, Kratovil, Kucinich, Lipinski, Maffei, Marshall, Michaud, Minnick, Mitchell, Murphy, (CT), Murphy (NY), Napolitano, Nye, Perriello, Peters, Pingree (ME), Pomeroy, Schrader, Shea-Porter, Shuler, Skelton, Space, Taylor, Titus.

How they voted on disaster relief, teacher funding amendment, which passed.

How they voted on an amendment to eliminate military funding from the bill.

How they voted on an amendment to limit military funding to withdrawal.

How they voted on an amendment to require the president to present Congress with 1) a new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan by January 31, 2011 and 2) a plan by April 4, 2011, on "the safe, orderly and expeditious redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, including a timeframe for the completion of the redeployment." In addition -- and this was a late addition to the amendment strengthening it considerably -- Congress would be required to vote by July 2011 "if it wants to allow the obligation and expenditure of funds for Afghanistan in a manner that is not consistent with the president's announced policy of December 2009 to begin to drawdown troops by July 2011."

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrfSaGtEW08

the UN is planning to ditch the green dollar

death to the new world order!

thats why they want war with iran , they want oil to be valued in euroes not dollars , its all about the dollar oil is valued by the dollar and if it changes to euroes then there is no backing for the dollar, they say iran is makeing nukes so far they have made medical grade urainium . they joined the un they have let inspectors in to all 80 of their sites with free run . in the other hand israel has done none of the above , why are we protecting israel ? why wouldnt you want to change your money ? its been done here before, its an automatic change in the bank , unless you are hideing illeagle money it wouldent make a differance would it?

Quote: "thats why they want war with iran , they want oil to be valued in euroes not dollars , its all about the dollar"

They? You mean the U.S. war makers, financial elites, Big Oil, ..., for only they and Israel really talk about wanting war on Iran, not the UN.

Saddam Hussein had also announced that he wanted to switch Iraqi oil sales to the Euro and this has been said by enough people that it was one of the main issues of discussion in VP Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force meeting in, I believe, January 2001.

I recently read an article or listened to a video report in which it was stated that Saddam Hussein had announced his plan to switch to the Euro, maybe back in 2000, and that Iran has also been thinking about making this switch. The piece also said something about North Korea wanting to do this, but this left me questioning. I'm not precisely recalling how NK was additionally referred to, but the questioning I was left with was about why NK was being referred to as if it's an important player in the oil industry. The questioning had nothing to do with nuclear weapons or power; unless this was the same article or video report about U.S. elites being against countries switching to alternative sources or forms of energy in order to be able to try to enforce their oil industry, markets hegemony and profiteering. I read an article or view a video report in which the latter subject was seriously referred to and it might be the same piece, but my questioning wasn't about that topic.

Maybe Iran and NK possibly do really want to place a lot of emphasis on development and use of alternative energy, but the impression I had was that NK was being referred to as if it's a serious player or party in the oil industry.

Anyway, it certainly seems that Iranian leadership is giving some serious thought to switching to the Euro, though, and if recalling correctly, this has been mentioned before, some years ago; maybe two, three ... years ago. And it's surely credible that NK leadership would seriously consider switching to the Euro.

U.S. elites, and not only Big Oil ones, want to dominate the oil industry. Financial elites are invested, a lot, in the oil industry; surely. And some U.S. elites want global economic dominance, which inherently requires global military and geopolitical dominance. They can't conquer this world. They can't conquer Afghanistan. But they'll use destabilization if they can't achieve their "desired" conquests. And destabilization is something they're very capable of doing as well as maintaining; for a long time anyway.

I have to try to find the piece in which it's said or explained that the U.S. war-maker and -profiteering elites are against countries switching to alerternative sources of energy. Part of this explanation, I believe, is about this energy production and consumption switch being a, if not the, motive for the regular threats and hegemonic bs the U.S. has been committing towards Iran for years now.

EDIT:

The following article explains why it's very unlikely that any govt or country will really try to switch to other currencies for trading oil. The article is several years old now, but I think what it says probably still holds true.

"No, the Iran Oil Bourse is not a casus belliā€¦"

by F. William Engdahl, March 10, 2006

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=2076

If we carefully take what that article says and the warning in its conclusion, then we can realize that Saddam Hussein's announcement that he wanted or planned to switch to the Euro might have been the main or top motive for the war on Iraq. By extension we can understand that if Iran switches to the Euro or seriously talks about doing so, then war may also come to it.

he doesn't provide as much analysis as I'd want. F. William Engdahl and Michael Hudson, who both contribute at www.globalresearch.ca and surely some other websites, are examples of people I'd want to hear or read from regarding this call by the UN for "ditching" the USD, for replacing it with IMF SDR's.

all of congress and obama voted for there suport of israels illeagle act of piratcy in international waters were americans were killed one 19 year old shot in the back of the head execution stile . israelys appoligize to turkey for their wrongfull attake on the floatilla . now to me this shows the american goverment serves israel over the american citizens , that is an act of treason and if thats not an impeachable offence of an intire goverment than there never has been . the people that should take a trip to the gallows is all of congress and the last 3 and current president and the complisant supream court justices that inable the furthering of their nwo agenda, then the taxing of the federal reserve that would end our deficite . that would be a change we need here. no paying to use our own money, no corrupt goverment putting other countrys before our own, the ending of 7 million dollars a day to israel the list could go on for some time. dont you think that would be the best chance of takeing our country back i sure do.

My memory is not what it used to be, but we now have a budget which was deemed passed, a war funding bill that was deemed passed, a Health Care Insurs Relief Bill which was deemed passed and a Constitution which has been deemed obsolete. During the time of the Romans they kept a Senate around to maintain a fiction of some type of law making body. Apparently this wonderful Republic is about to deem that that type of fiction is no longer necessary and deem the Supreme Leader to be all knowing and all powerful. Hail the Supreme Leader.

It would be most helpful for bill numbers to be provided. So much easier to either heap deserving praise or deserving tons of crap on our respective (not necessarily always respectable)Congresspersons and Senators.

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