Who’s not for funding U.S. troops?
Usually congressional debates over funding U.S. troops are fights where lawmakers try to best each other praising them and throwing as much money as possible at them for fear of appearing less patriotic than someone else.
But Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives are girding for an all-out brawl over a roughly $95 billion bill to fund the troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq — but not because of that money but rather because of provisions to shore up the International Monetary Fund.
While most in Washington know what the IMF is, many Americans do not. It provides loans to governments around the world trying to weather financial crises and get their economies back on track.
President Barack Obama asked Congress to bless his plan for extending a $100 billion line of credit to the IMF amid the global economic meltdown, boost the U.S. membership contribution by $8 billion and endorse the IMF’s plan to sell 400 tons of gold.
Republicans argue that it is unrelated to funding the U. S. troops and should be considered on its own merits, instead of being tucked into the money bill at the last minute by Democrats who control both the House and Senate.
“I will oppose this legislation if it is loaded up with billions in spending that is unrelated to our military’s core mission of protecting our nation and our interests,” said Republican Minority Leader John Boehner, a sign that most Republicans could oppose the bill.
Some House Democratic leaders have been wary about including the IMF money but have agreed to go along with Obama. Yet Republican opposition could make it potentially much harder for the Democrats to pass the war funding bill.
Fifty-one Democrats opposed the war funding bill last month and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needed Republicans to pass it. Some 168 Republicans voted with Democrats to approve it.
If most or all the Republicans bolt (which would be an fairly unusual since it’s a war funding bill), that leaves Pelosi in the difficult position of seeking support from the anti-war faction of the Democratic party — for a war funding bill.
Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Andy Wong (Pelosi last week in China)