Emerson explains vote on war spending bill

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Iraq war is being poorly run, but the spending bill that set a timeline for removing U.S. troops "politicizes the men and women in uniform," U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson said Friday about why she was one of two members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted "present."

A little more than a month before Wednesday's vote, Emerson, R-Mo., had voted with almost all of her Republican colleagues against the measure calling the removal of most U.S. combat troops. But when the final version was presented for the vote that would send it to a certain veto by President Bush, she neither sided with the GOP nor did she join the majority party Democrats pushing the measure.

The bill includes $90 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as $34.2 billion for other government programs. The measure demands troop withdrawals begin Oct. 1 or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain standards. The bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pull out by April 1, allowing for forces conducting certain noncombat missions, such as attacking terrorist networks or training Iraqi forces, to remain.

"I cannot abide the way this war is being conducted, but neither can I lend my support to a measure that politicizes the men and women in uniform so bravely serving our country," Emerson said in a prepared statement issued Friday afternoon.

"I sincerely hope that, when the political dust settles, this Congress can pass a meaningful emergency supplemental appropriations bill that will send both a message of severe urgency to the Iraqi government and a message of encouragement to our troops," Emerson said.

The bill, which includes $124.2 billion in total spending, passed the House on Wednesday on a 218-208 vote. Two Republicans joined with the Democratic House majority to vote for the bill; 13 Democrats broke ranks with their party to join 195 Republicans opposed to the measure.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., also voted "present." In a statement issued after the vote, Stark said he voted present because he supports immediate withdrawal of the approximately 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and could not vote for any measure that includes money to support the war.

The vote among Missouri's other members of Congress split along party lines. U.S. Sen. Kit Bond voted against the resolution, and Sen. Claire McCaskill supported the measure.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 126

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