The Vote on the Supplemental Appropriations Conference Report

Washington, D.C. – The vote on the Fiscal 2007 Supplemental Appropriations Conference Report will be difficult for those who would like to see an early end to the war. A number of Representatives voted for the bill the first time with substantial misgivings. Now the House language on Iraq has been weakened to accommodate the very narrow majority in the Senate.

We would like to see American troops brought home from Iraq as soon as possible and we want Congress to adopt that position.

We understand, however, that we need 218 Representatives and 51 Senators to support that position in order to register a legislative victory and rebuke President Bush.

Unfortunately, a majority in Congress, much less a two-thirds majority, does not yet support immediate withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Iraq. Public opinion polling similarly shows that while there is a clear majority of Americans against the war, there is not yet a majority for an immediate funding cutoff.

For example, a CBS News poll released April 13 asked:

Which of these comes closest to your opinion?
1. Congress should block all funding for the war in Iraq no matter what OR
2. Congress should allow funding only for a limited period of time OR
3. Congress should allow all funding for the war in Iraq without a time limit.

Respondents answered:
9% Block all funding
58% Allow only for a limited time
29% Allow all funding

Americans oppose President Bush’s troop increase, but only a small majority – not two-thirds – support withdrawing forces now. A Washington Post poll released April 16 asked:

Do you think the United States should keep its military forces in Iraq until civil order is restored there, even if that means U.S. military casualties; OR, do you think the United States should withdraw its military forces from Iraq in order to avoid further U.S. military casualties, even if that means civil order is not restored there?

Respondents answered:
42% Keep forces
56% Withdraw forces

We still need to convince two-thirds of the Congress and the American public that an early pullout is desirable. Until that happens, however, the legislation approved by the Appropriations conference committee is the best we can do. Again, we would prefer stronger language, but we are well aware of the need to win 218 House votes and 51 Senate votes so that at least some language is included moving the U.S. toward an exit from Iraq.

No matter what we think of the language, the President clearly thinks it is too strong and has promised to veto it. If the President thinks that the conference report undermines his disastrous war policies, then we should support the conference report. It is important to get a majority vote for the conference report in order to force the President to issue only his second ever veto. Indeed, those voting “Nay� on the conference report, no matter how intelligent their reasoning, may find themselves in the illogical position of being on the same side as President Bush in opposing the compromise and then being asked to override a veto of a bill they don’t like.

If the conference report is defeated in either the House or the Senate, Democrats will look foolish, confused and incapable of wielding their newly-attained majority effectively.

We agree with both Congress and the American people that there should be meaningful action on the war; we would like American troops should come home as quickly as possible.

But we also understand that the conference report is a critical first step in that direction and that there will be ample opportunities for Congress to consider binding language in later bills that achieves our common goal.

David Cohen, John Isaacs & Guy Stevens, Council for a Livable World