Supplemental Concerns

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The last of the war supplemental bills – from now on in the Administration is folding such requests into the normal budgeting process – is on the floor in the House today. The vote is expected to be close: “I think we have the votes,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters in his weekly pen and pad session this morning, but “’confident’ might overstate it.” Hoyer said the bill may get bumped till tomorrow as both parties scramble to see where members stand ahead of a vote.

Breaking with their traditional support of U.S. troops fighting abroad, the G.O.P. leaders are encouraging their members to vote against the $106 billion bill because of $5 billion the Senate attached to cover the risk of default on a $108 billion line of credit for the International Monetary Fund. Republicans are also upset about a provision that would allow the transfer of some Guantanemo detainees to U.S. soil. “Madam Speaker, we can save our disagreements for tomorrow, but today let’s work together – let’s remove the IMF funds, get rid of the GITMO loophole, and protect our troops from harm – and pass the War Supplemental,” Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican, said on the House floor. “Our troops deserve that.”

(The bill last week overcame another near-mortal problem. President Obama late last week ended a show down between House and Senate conferees that threatened to tank the bill when he pledged to use his “administrative authority” to prevent the release of hundreds of detainee photos. An amendment co-authored by Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman was stripped from the bill, appeasing angry progressives and allowing the conference to reach an agreement. The American Civil Liberties Union has been suing to force the release of the photos, a move supported by many on the left.)

Republicans have called the IMF funds a “global bailout,” though Dems were quick to point out that House Minority Leader John Boehner voted for similar funding in 1998. Still, at least 33 Dems – many of them progressives – have also expressed concern over the money, urging Pelosi in a letter not to give the fund a “blank check.” All of which is to say, the bill is not a popular one on either side of the aisle – good thing it’s the last one. Members calculations on how they’ll vote on it seem to have less to do with support of the troops and more to do with the inevitable tv commercials that vulnerable members are surely envisioning as I type this.