May 20, 2008


How the GOP derailed Pelosi's war bill (PATRICK O'CONNOR, 5/20/08, Politico)

A few hours before the House was to vote on $162.5 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence (R) approached California Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) on the House floor to tell him that he was interested in bringing down the bill.

Pence is an outspoken conservative who has railed against earmarks; Lewis is the top Republican on the panel that doles them out. But the two men found common ground on the supplemental. Pence thought Republicans would be providing Pelosi a free ride by lending their votes to a war funding bill that many Democratic members wouldn’t support. Lewis was angry that Pelosi had circumvented the regular committee process, including a hearing before his own Appropriations panel.

Lewis, who had been meeting privately with Boehner, told Pence that he’d already asked leadership to help him defeat the bill.

The question was how.

Pence walked to Boehner’s office for a quick, unscheduled meeting with the Republican leader. Boehner was surprised that Lewis would want to bring down the bill and explained that there might not be enough time to organize the necessary opposition.

But then Boehner’s top floor aide, Jo-Marie St. Martin, reviewed the roll calls for previous House votes on clean funding for the war, and she showed both men that 140 Democrats typically voted against them, meaning the Republicans could defeat the funding bill by simply voting present.

“If we don’t vote for it,” Pence told the man he once challenged for the leadership of their party, “they can’t pass this bill.”

The best Democratic election result in 14 years produced a conservative Congress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2008 8:17 AM
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