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House Moves War Spending Package to the Senate.

July 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

If you asked the House of Representatives right now to approve $37 billion to continue the war in Afghanistan indefinitely without a plan in place for winding it down, the answer would be “no.” But through some carefully considered procedural maneuvering last night, Democratic leaders in the House managed to pass their war spending bill, reject attempts at setting a withdrawal timeline, enact a broad budget enforcement resolution that will guide all discretionary spending for 2011, and even throw in billions of dollars (fully offset) in unrelated domestic spending. The bill is H.R. 4899.

At the core of the procedural maneuvering was a “deem and pass” rule, which, you may recall from the health care reform debate, allows a bill to be “deemed” passed without actually getting its own vote. For all the details of what went down, I recommend reading David Dayen’s rundown. It’s a long post, but this is the kind of scenario that is purposefully designed by Congress so that you can’t really tell what happened by looking at the roll call votes or the actions that get recorded in the congressional record. The Hill also has a good article, but I definitely recommend the more procedurally-informative post from Dayen. You need to know what happened procedurally in order to interpret the data Congress is putting out on this. In fact, you can’t even find the most important vote if you’re looking at the actual spending bill that was passed. You need to look at the “rule” that set up the votes on the bill and allowed it to be deemed passed (H. Res. 1500). The full roll call on the rule can be seen at this link.

The Senate won’t be taking up this package of war and domestic spending until mid July, likely after they take care of the pending unemployment insurance bill. As we’ve seen recently, the Senate has no appetite right now for new deficit spending, so there may be some problems getting this through as the $37 billion in war money is not offset.

We’ll be following this as it moves into the Senate, but, for now, go read that David Dayen piece to catch up on what happened in the House.

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