After weeks of intense debate, the House passed an approximately $80 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill last night that will lend an additional $33 billion to the wars in Afghanistan in Iraq.
In the end, the vote to advance the nearly $60 billion Senate-passed measure came under a vote on the rule, an obscure process used to allow the House to vote to set the terms for debate on the bill, but not on the underlying bill. Inside the rule, the bill was deemed passed after the rule passed. The vote was close, but eeked by at 215-210. The budget resolution (that isn’t really a budget resolution) was included within the self-executing rule.
The House then took up five separate amendments.
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The first includes a $1 billion youth summer jobs program and a settlement of the Cobell v. Salazar and Pigford v. Vilsack class action lawsuits, among other things.
The bulk of the House’s $20 billion addition, however, comes from the second amendment which includes:
• $10 billion for an Education Jobs Fund that will prevent impending local teacher layoffs
• $4.95 billion to address the current year shortfall in the Pell Grant Program
• $701 million for border security
• $304 million for the Gulf Coast oil spill (the Senate bill carried $162 million)
• $50 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program
• $163 million to improve elementary and secondary schools on DoD installations
• $180 million in loan guarantees, split evenly between nuclear and renewable energy programs
• $16.5 million for the replacement of the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood.
• $538 million to strengthen waste, fraud and abuse prevention and enforcement for Medicaid, Medicare and the IRS.
The spending in the amendment is entirely offset by cuts. One of these cuts, though, sparked an immediate reaction from the White House. In an unusually public clash with Democratic allies, the President has promised to veto the bill if a proposed $800 million cut from programs such as the Race to the Top grant initiative is adopted.
The final three votes were largely symbolic and focused primarily on Afghanistan.
The first, with no named sponsor, would eliminate military funding for Afghanistan from the bill, but received only 25 votes. The second would call for the money to go only toward a withdrawal. This amendment garnered significantly more votes, with 100 ayes and 321 noes.
The third, sponsored by Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), received 162 votes. The bill would require a new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan by January 31, 2011, and a plan by April 4, 2011, on the redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, including a timeframe for the completion of the redeployment.
While none of these three Afghanistan amendments ultimately passed, they send a powerful message about the country’s growing impatience with the war.