WASHINGTON — For the first time since the war in Iraq began in March 2003, the House voted 149-141 last week against providing $163 billion to continue military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There was more to the vote than a war protest.
One hundred and thirty-two Republicans voted “present” to signal their opposition to domestic spending items added to the war funding bill.
Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Dean Heller and Jon Porter, both R-Nev., voted for the bill.
After rejecting additional war funding, the House voted 227-196 to set a Dec. 31, 2009, goal for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq.
Berkley voted for the withdrawal date. Heller and Porter voted against setting a withdrawal date.
The House also passed an amendment to increase education funding for veterans by $52 billion over 10 years by a vote of 256-166.
The amendment included language to extend unemployment benefits and postpone cost-cutting regulations for Medicaid.
Berkley and Porter voted for the amendment. Heller voted against it.
NO MORE OIL STORAGE
With gasoline prices skyrocketing, the House and the Senate voted to force the Bush administration to stop buying oil for an emergency stockpile known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The House voted 385-25 and the Senate voted 97-1 to end oil storage.
White House officials said President Bush would not veto the legislation.
The president has said the United States acquires 70,000 barrels of oil a day for storage. That represents less than one tenth of 1 percent of the global consumption of 85 million gallons per day.
Berkley, Heller and Porter voted to stop buying oil for the stockpile.
Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted to stop buying oil for the stockpile.
FARM BILL PASSES
In another sign that Congress is turning a deaf ear to Bush in the final year of his presidency, the House and the Senate approved a $289 billion farm bill by enough votes to override a threatened veto.
The House voted 318-106 and the Senate voted 81-15 for the farm bill, which reauthorizes crop subsidies, land conservation programs, food stamps and agriculture entitlement programs.
Bush vowed to veto the bill after complaining, among other things, it costs too much and does not cut crop subsidies enough.
Berkley and Porter voted for the farm bill. Heller voted against it.
Reid voted for the farm bill. Ensign voted against it.