A bill to continue funding troops in Iraq and Afghanistan might not sound controversial, but Senate Republicans did their best to block it
this morning. Thirty-three of them voted to filibuster the legislation--just seven votes short. The only Republicans to join Dems approving the bill were Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Susan Collins and
Olympia Snowe of Maine. So
why would Republicans--who spent years reproving Democrats for
insufficiently supporting the troops -- vote to cut off their funding? (House Republicans, meanwhile, voted
overwhelmingly to support the funding measure.) Observers think it's a tactic designed to stall the health care vote. For their part, liberals are incensed, while conservative writers are conspicuously silent.
- All About Health Care The Washington Post's Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery are clear on the "unusual
move designed to delay President Obama's health-care legislation." They
write, "Republicans have said their goal is to delay the bill and force
Senate Democrats to go home and face their constituents, hoping for
some supporters of the measure to return after New Year's too fearful
to back the legislation. If the filibuster on the $626 billion defense
bill had succeeded,
Democrats would have had to scramble to find a way to fund the military
operations, because a stopgap funding measure for the Pentagon will
expire at midnight Friday. Such an effort to come up with another
stopgap defense bill might have disrupted the very tight timeline on
- Becoming 'Party of No' a Risky Strategy NBC News asks of the GOP, "Can
you govern if you're unwilling to play ball? [...] Aren't they handing
Obama the 'obstructionist' message that benefited Bush and Clinton in
their first terms?" They ask, "How many times can you say 'no'?" Given how many GOP-friendly concessions have been made in health care, "It may be that the politics of this and the bitterness that's descended
inside the Senate prevent anyone from crossing party lines. But do
Republicans risk looking totally like obstructionists if some of their
bigger concerns about the bill are gone?" Chuck Todd adds, "Senate GOP rolled dice big time with the attempt to filibuster the troop funding bill as a way to delay [health care] action."
- GOP Hands Dems Major Symbolic Victory Salon's Thomas Schaller writes, "Why do Republicans hate our troops? If shoe were on other foot, you know GOPers would be asking the same of Democrats." He advises, "Not
only does this go against all of the soft-on-defense attacks the GOP
has launched against Democrats since, oh, 1968. But some Republicans
openly admit they are doing it. If President Obama and Senate
Democrats cannot turn this into a holy shit storm of criticism, there's
something wrong with them."
- Republicans End Troop-Loving Charade Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas shakes his head. "At least Republicans don't have to pretend to give a shit about our troops anymore. That must be a relief for them. Let's tally it
up: GOP sends troops to die in optional war, then vows to filibuster
funding for them. Yup. Definitely looks like hate."
- Obstruction at Any Cost Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler is appalled. "Republicans are upping the obstruction--and they're playing chicken with U.S. troops to do so," he writes. "For
their part, Republicans aren't exactly being coy about what their play
is. 'We're doing everything we can to stop this bill,' [Minority Leader
Sen. Mitch] McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told reporters this
- Why Obama Needs Democratic Unity The American Prospect's Tim Fernholz notes, "This is why, despite the higher support for the War in Afghanistan
among Republicans, the president can't really rely on their help in
Congress if his own party continues its intransigence on the subject --
the GOP will drop any principle, including their support for escalation
in Afghanistan, to score meager political points or delay the passage
of the majority agenda."
- Political Game With Troops Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill hits back, "Hard to believe. Funding runs out tomorrow. A political game with the troops?"
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