Timetables of the Reconstruction


The Democratic House passed their benchmark-setting Iraq supplemental just now by a 218-212 vote, with a few conservative Democrats, some left-wing Democrats, and all but two Republicans (Jim Gilchrist of Maryland and Walter Jones of North Carolina) voting no. (I assume Ron Paul voted no because he opposes war funding with or without strings.)

The House bill includes military funding beyond the level requested by Bush, adding money for health care for returning service members and veterans in the wake of a scandal over the treatment of wounded outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dubbed the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans Health and Iraq Accountability Act, the bill requires the Pentagon to stick to its standards for training and equipping combat troops being sent abroad. It also enforces rules that limit the tours of deployed troops to no more than 13 months and stipulate that they have to stay home for at least a year between tours.

This sounds like Murtha's "death by a thousand cuts" plan of a month ago, which was torn up in the media but, well, not where it counts. Malkin lists the pork projects that allowed the bill to pass, and speculates about defeat for the Dems who voted for it. I think the pork will be more politically harmful than the withdrawal provisions—those are less politically popular than the Dems' minimum wage, but not by much. A fight between "end the war" Democrats and "more war forever!" Republicans is exactly what Pelosi wants.

UPDATE: Paul's office directs us to his Tuesday statement on the bill:

This $124 billion appropriation is only part of the nearly $1 trillion in military spending for this year's budget alone. We should be concerned about the coming bankruptcy and the crisis facing the U.S. dollar.

We have totally failed to adapt to modern warfare. We're dealing with a small, nearly invisible enemy–an enemy without a country, a government, an army, a navy, an air force, or missiles. Yet our enemy is armed with suicidal determination, and motivated by our meddling in their regional affairs, to destroy us.

And as we bleed financially, our men and women in Iraq die needlessly while the injured swell Walter Reed hospital. Our government systematically undermines the Constitution and the liberties it's supposed to protect– for which it is claimed our soldiers are dying in faraway places.

Only with the complicity of Congress have we become a nation of pre-emptive war, secret military tribunals, torture, rejection of habeas corpus, warrantless searches, undue government secrecy, extraordinary renditions, and uncontrollable spying on the American people. The greatest danger we face is ourselves: what we are doing in the name of providing security for a people made fearful by distortions of facts. Fighting over there has nothing to do with preserving freedoms here at home. More likely the opposite is true.

Surely we can do better than this supplemental authorization. I plan to vote no.