More than 100 Democratic House members and a dozen Republicans voted against funding the Obama administration’s Afghan war surge Tuesday, offering one of the strongest shows of opposition to presidential warmaking since the Vietnam War era.
President Obama still got the money for his expanded war in Afghanistan, as well as for his plan to continue the occupation of Iraq.
By a 308-114 vote, the House approved a $58.8 billion emergency funding bill—most of which will go to pay for the president’s plan to surge tens of thousands of additional troops into Afghanistan. The measure parallels a Senate bill passed earlier this month and will now go to Obama’s desk for a quick signature.
But the real story Tuesday was that so many members of the president’s own party rejected his misguided approach to foreign policy.
Even in 1968, at the end of his tortured presidency, Lyndon Johnson never faced so high a level of opposition from fellow Democrats to his requests for Vietnam War funding as Obama was hit with Tuesday. And the votes against Obama’s war were not just coming from the usual suspects; Democratic opposition to the president’s policies surged from thirty-two votes against last year’s supplemental spending bill for Afghanistan and Iraq to 102 against this year’s bill.
“All of the puzzle has been put together and it is not a pretty picture; things are really ugly over there,” Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, said Tuesday with regard to the House Democratic Caucus. “I think the White House continues to underestimate the depth of antiwar sentiment here.”
California Democrat Lynn Woolsey, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that this week’s Wikileaks revelations regarding the quagmire in Afghanistan had strengethened the resolve of many Democrats who were doubtful about the supplemental. "The documents released to the news media this past weekend by WikiLeaks add to the mounting evidence that the war in Afghanistan remains fiscally unsustainable and morally unjustifiable," said Woolsey, who explained that, "As if I needed any more persuasion, the WikiLeaks revelations left me with no other choice than to vote this week against the supplemental appropriations bill to spend billions more on military operations in Afghanistan. How could I in good conscience endorse continued financial support for an unwinnable war, one that does violence to our values and is undermining our national security objectives? There is only one option: End this war and bring our troops home."