RECENT VOTES

Supplemental Spending for FY 2008

May 15, 2008

On Thursday May 15th the House took votes on three amendments related to additional spending for FY 2008. The first amendment provided $162.5 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I voted NO.

As all of you know, I voted against the war in Iraq and have been doing everything I can to end this war and start bringing our men and women in uniform home. Like you, I am deeply disappointed that we have not yet been able to convince the Senate or a veto-proof majority in the House to join our efforts. Although I do not think that we will be able to convince President Bush to change course in Iraq, I will never stop trying to do that. I am also very hopeful that our next President will end the war in Iraq.

This vote may confuse people because many Republicans voted "Present". Although I do not truly understand their reasoning, it was explained to me that they (1) were unhappy about procedural aspects of the votes and wanted to voice their protest, and (2) wanted to underscore their argument that Democrats "don't support our troops". Personally, I think this approach on such a serious matter insults the intelligence of the American public, demeans the matter at hand and is doomed to fail. Although I disagree in the strongest possible terms, I understand that some believe we should not draw down troops in Iraq and therefore vote to fund our continuing presence. I cannot respect those who use their vote on a matter of this gravity as a gambit in some political game.

Please note that I do not believe this "victory" on defeating this funding amendment will end this war. I believe the Senate will overturn this action and the House will eventually fund the Iraq war as the President has requested. I hope to be wrong, but I want my constituents to know the truth so we can keep up the fight for the hearts and minds of American voters.

As a result of these political games, the amendment failed. I voted NO and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

85

147

0

3

REPUBLICAN

56

2

132

9

TOTAL

141

149

132

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

10

0

0

The second amendment establishes policy restrictions related to Iraq. It requires that the United States begin redeploying troops from Iraq within 30 days of enactment of the legislation, with a goal of completing that combat troop withdrawal by December of 2009. It also stipulates that funds appropriated for the war in Iraq may be used for troop redeployment. It further requires the President to submit for congressional approval any agreement between the United States and the Iraqi government involving U.S. defense of Iraq. There has been concern that the President will bypass Congress in seeking such an agreement. This amendment also prohibits the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq and mandates that the Army Field Manual's prohibition against torture also apply to all U.S. intelligence agencies and personnel. This amendment also requires that all troops meet the Pentagon definition of "combat ready" before they are deployed and follows the Pentagon's own guidelines on time at home between tours of duty. Far too many of our troops have had limited time with their loved ones between deployment and this amendment simply requires the Pentagon to live up to its own guidelines. I voted YES. The amendment passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

219

13

0

3

REPUBLICAN

8

183

0

8

TOTAL

227

196

0

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

The third amendment enacts a new GI bill. It restores full, four year college scholarships to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the same level of support that was available to our World War II veterans and should be available to today's veterans. This third amendment also provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits and contained funding for the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping troops in Darfur. The amendment includes the text of H.R. 5613, a bill that separately passed the House a few weeks ago, which would block 7 Bush Administration Medicaid regulations that would severely cut funding to Massachusetts. I voted YES. The amendment passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

224

7

0

4

REPUBLICAN

32

156

0

8

TOTAL

256

166

0

12

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

The Senate is separately considering its own version of the Supplemental, and ultimately the two versions will be reconciled.