By a vote of 268-155 the House of Representatives has passed a $162 billion war spending bill that will carry funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond the end of George W. Bush’s term. Democrats were persuaded to support the bill by the inclusion of such domestic provisions such as an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance, the new GI Bill, and $2.7 billion in emergency flood relief for the Midwest.
The domestic provisions were passed separately be a vote of 416-12, and the bill will now move to the Senate next week for approval. The White House has already signaled that President Bush will not veto the bill. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi expressed her support for the GI Bill, “I’m very pleased that this legislation has the GI Bill. Finally, it became clear that it was what we had to do, what we owed our young people; we say thank you to them by sending them to college. Mr. Chet Edwards has been a champion on this issue.”
Pelosi let it be known that was voting in support of the domestic programs, but not the war funding, “So while I’m pleased that we have some spirit of civility here tonight about coming to a conclusion on this bill, and I will enthusiastically vote for the domestic portion, I’m not urging anyone to do anything. I just want you to know why I will be voting no on the spending without constraint.”
The White House had desperately tried to kill the unemployment benefits extension, and had sought to modify the new GI Bill because they felt that its $90,000 benefits for those who served three years in the military was too generous and would harm retention rates, but in the end the administration was forced to compromise if they wanted more money for their precious war.