Congress is expected to approve later this week spending $106 billion to help pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and control the spread of flu -- but not before debating a ban on releasing of terrorism detainee abuse photos, aiding the International Monetary Fund and plotting an exit from Afghanistan.
The legislation, ironed out last week by congressional negotiators after a last-minute push from President Barack Obama, provides $79.9 billion to fight the two wars through Sept. 30 and another $10.4 billion to the State Department and other agencies for "stabilization" efforts in the region. It also contains $7.7 billion for flu control efforts.
Such bills usually pass quickly and nearly unanimously, but this one has been held up over a series of issues that continue to sizzle.
"We'll pass this," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., the chairman of the House defense spending subcommittee, "but it's going to be a very close vote."
The above is from David Lightman's "Congress will pass war spending, but not without fight over photos" (McClatchy Newspapers) and he informs that the House is supposed to take up the issue on Tuesday with the Senate then following. Lightman focuses on the IMF issue and the torture photos. We'll instead note [PDF format warning] the letter US House Reps Dennis Kucinich and Lynn Woolsey sent out to their colleagues June 9th:
We commend your vote in opposition to H.R. 2346, Supplemental Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2009. We urge you to continue to oppose the War Supplemental conference report.
Despite the current focus on disagreements over funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the primary intent of this legislation is to continue funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As members who remain opposed to continued, prolonged or protracted war or occupation on one or more fronts we must make clear our strong opposition and work to defeat this bill. It is notable that attempts to make important changes to the legislation, such as the call for an exit strategy from Afghanistan or demands for increased transparency and accountability at the IMF, have been rebuffed.
Continued funding of war operations in Iraq ensures a continued occupation thereby undermining the stated U.S. goal for withdrawal by the end of 2010. Funds for Iraq should be dedicated to bringing all our troops and contractors home immediately. We must meet our moral obligation to rebuild Iraq and support viable solutions to the crises faced by the refugee and internally displaced populations. As such, the U.S. must maintain a continued commitment to the country of Iraq that does not include war or occupation.
Funding expanded combat operations in Afghanistan will not meet the security objectives of the U.S. Sending additional brave American service members to Afghanistan does nto increase security and it is not an act of diplomacy. This approach only encourages the Taliban and other insurgent groups to do likewise, while fueling their recruiting efforts. The bill ensured that the months and perhaps years ahead will be bloody. And the bill fails to present an exist strategy.
Voting down the funds for war honors the mandate to end the war in Iraq that was given to this body by the American people in November 2006. Futhermore, defeat of the War Supplemental sends a clear message about U.S. priorities at home and abroad.
Congress must use the power of the purse to end combat operations. When the War Supplemental conference comes to the Floor for a vote I urge you to continue to vote no.
Woolsey has noted the strong arming by the administration in attempts to push the War Supplemental through. Her thanks for that was a piss-ant blogger attacking her. In terms of that, let's add some perspective. Piss-ant blogs several times a day. This is his what? First post on Iraq in the last 350? Translation, Iraq doesn't mean a damn thing to that liar. He used Iraq, hopped on it, when he thought it would sweep his beloveds into power. It did, he moved on. He and that site are full of crap. It's a David Sirota site and that tells you all you need to know. It is not now nor has it ever been a site concerned with ending the Iraq War. In fact, prior to Cindy Sheehan waking the nation up, it was for a 'smarter war' and not an end to the Iraq War.
Lynn Woolsey is one of the most honest and upfront members of Congress. She chooses her words very carefully. Woolsey told the truth, Piss-ant blogger lied.
Tom Eley's "Obama smoothes passage of war spending bill by pledging to suppress torture photos" (WSWS) notes:
In response, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel 'rushed' to Capitol Hill and prevailed upon Senate Democrats to remove the torture photo measure in exchange for an explicit White House promise that it would use all means at its disposal to block the photos' release. Obama also issued a letter to Congress assuring it he would support separate legislation to suppress the photos, if necessary, and imploring it to speed passage of the war-spending bill. The rider would "unnecessarily complicate the essential objective of supporting the troops," Obama wrote.
The administration's position was strengthened Thursday by the US Court of Appeals in New York, which granted Obama a stay on the court's earlier order to release the torture photos so that the White House can appeal to the US Supreme Court. Should the US Supreme Court rule in Obama's favor, the photos may never be made public.
The episode demonstrates the Democrats' leading role in carrying forward the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and their complicity in covering up the criminality of these operations. Obama’s intervention in removing the rider that would have suppressed the torture photos -- in exchange for his promise to do so himself -- was specifically aimed at providing political cover to allow 51 "anti-war" members of the Democrats' House delegation to support the war funding bill. "Many of them are leadership loyalists who can be counted on to switch" their vote, the Associated Press notes.
On nonsense online, Micah asked if we could note Tobin Harshaw "Weekend Opinionator: Is Racist Hate Republican or Democratic?" (New York Times' online blog, The Opinionator) calling out some of the nonsense online. I only read the first section -- about the always pathetic Joan Walsh -- but Micah recommends the whole thing and wonders why three hate crimes is reduced to two? Good point. (See Third's "Politically driven assassinations" and you can also check Feminist Wire Daily which got it right.)
The Iraq War hasn't ended -- despite propaganda efforts by a Piss-Ant blogger -- and Nadini Jayakrishna (Boston Globe) reports on Saturday's farewell ceremony for Massachusetts National Guard Unit's 101st Engineer Battalion:
Specialist Kristen L. Cunha, 28, said that she will miss her 9-year-old son, Tyler, and 6-year-old daughter, Kayla, as she follows her lifelong dream of serving in the Army, but that she knows her husband supports her decision and will do his best to care for the family in her absence.
Failing to control his tears, Cunha's husband, Adalto, 40, a truck driver, said he was extremely proud of his wife and looked forward to hearing from her. When Tyler and Kayla cry for their mother, he said, he will do his best to console them.
Saturday Gerald Garner Jr. (Chieftain) reported on Wednesday's send off for the New Mexico National Guard's 515th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion which is readying for deployment to Iraq this summer:
[Staff Sgt Pedro] Guerrero said knowing that there are so many who care about the soldiers makes it easier to deal with the pending deployment.
"I don't mind going knowing that our families, our friends and our community is behind us," he said.
Lt. Col. Ken Nava, who heads the 515th, said the unit was originally called the Guardians of the Philippine Sun.
"Now we're the guardians of New Mexico's sun," Nava said after being presented with a New Mexico flag. "We will fly this in Iraq."
In legal news, Joe Callahan (Ocala Star-Banner) reports James Edward Norcross, a soldier on R&R from Iraq (due to return Thursday), ended up arrested at two in the morning Sunday with the 42-year-old man charged with "molesting three children, now ages 15, 13 and 12" from incidents dating "back three years, occurring in Marion County, Tennessee and North Carolina".
Bonnie notes that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "CIA Diva" went up last night and she also asked if we could note Kat's Congressional coverage from last week? Yes and Thursday's needs to be noted in today's snapshot so thanks for reminding me Bonnie. "The do nothing Wartime Contracting Commission," "House Veterans Affairs Strategic Forces Subcommittee," and "Assessing CARES and the Future of VA's Health Infrastructure" were the three reports by Kat.
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