The House of Representatives okayed a $60 billion bill Thursday to pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and fund a variety of other programs like education, Pell Grants, natural disaster relief and relief efforts following the earthquake in Haiti.
Many Democrats opposed the bill, concerned about the length of the conflict in Afghanistan. And President Obama even threatened to veto the package if House liberals tried to tie his hands with an amendment to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
“If the final bill presented to the president contains provisions that would undermine his ability as commander in chief to conduct military operations in Afghanistan, the president’s senior advisers would recommend a veto,” said a statement issued by the White House Thursday evening.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Congress needed to pass the bill by July 4. But the entire package isn’t complete. The Senate approved its version of the bill in May. And the House legislation is different. That means the issue must return to the Senate. And the Senate isn’t going to take up the bill any time soon.
The Senate is out of session Friday so lawmakers may travel to West Virginia for the funeral of the late-Sen. Robert Byrd,D-W.Va. The Senate next meets July 12.
The House voted down a proposal to strike all funding for the war, 376-26. Twenty-two lawmakers voted "present."
The House also voted against a plan authored by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to order a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. That idea failed 321-100.
In addition, the House defeated an amendment to require the president to present a withdrawal strategy to Congress next year.
The tally there was 260 nays to 162.
With some unique parliamentary engineering, the bill was split into four separate sections, producing four distinct roll call votes that paid for social programs or attempted to strike all money for the war. Thus, unlike most bills, there was no definitive vote that passed the war measure.