House approves $58B for wars, despite Afghan leaks

July 27, 2010 8:27:19 PM PDT
Late Tuesday, the House voted to pump another $58 billion into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but this week's massive classified document leak is having an impact.

Support for the war is eroding and the massive military document leak certainly hasn't helped the situation. President Barack Obama tried to downplay it on Tuesday, but if it weren't for Republican support, the $58 billion funding for the war would have failed.

Tuesday morning Obama spoke publicly for the first time about the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history, trying to play it down.

"The fact is these documents don't reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate on Afghanistan," said Obama.

But the documents posted on the whistleblower website WikiLeaks have detailed missions that went horribly wrong, civilian deaths, and being double crossed by the ISI -- the intelligence service of U.S. ally Pakistan.

On the floor of the House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-San Rafael, was among Democratic lawmakers voting against the war funding and in favor of pulling support troops out of Pakistan.

"Mr. Speaker, we are running up record deficits with two wars, which have cost the United States in blood and treasure," said Woolsey.

"Let's not spend another dollar to escalate America's longest war. The costs of this war are too enormous in blood and treasure," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

And it wasn't just Woolsey and Lee voting no. Every Bay Area Democratic member of Congress voted against the war funding, except for Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, who supported it and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who didn't vote.

The latest ABC/Washington Post poll shows support for the war among Democrats is down to 36 percent and among Republicans it is 57 percent, but that's a big drop from a year ago.

The war is so unpopular, the Democratic leadership engineered Tuesday's vote in a way that severely limited debate.

"The last thing they want to have right now is a debate on the floor of the House of Representatives about whether or not we should be in Afghanistan and right now they are worried that with the release of these documents that that might precipitate exactly that debate and that'll make the White House, it'll make the Congress, and it'll make the Democrats look very bad," said Henry Brady, Ph.D., from the Goldman School of Public Policy.

So on Tuesday, the debate was organized under rules usually used for renaming post offices or bills so popular or mundane they need no debate. Forty minutes was the limit. The measure passed with a lot of Republican support, but you can bet the White House is hoping this is the last we'll hear of this, until after the November elections.


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