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2009-06-16

Speaker Nancy Pelosi Pressures Antiwar Democrats to Approve $106 Billion War Funding Bill

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Bob Fertik, president of Democrats.com and the co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org

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Congress is expected to vote today on a $106 billion supplemental war funding bill. The White House and Democratic leadership have been trying to muscle through the bill, which would support escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May, fifty-one antiwar Democrats opposed an earlier version of the bill. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been trying to pressure some of those Democrats to switch their votes in order to get the necessary votes to pass the bill. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We wrap up now to look at the $106 billion supplemental war funding bill that Congress votes on today. The White House and Democratic leadership have been trying to muscle through the bill, which would support escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May, fifty-one antiwar Democrats opposed an earlier version of the bill. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been trying to pressure some of those Democrats to switch their votes in order to get the necessary votes to pass the bill. California Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey says the White House has also threatened to pull support from freshman antiwar Democrats who vote no on the bill.

In addition to funding military escalation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bill also includes money for the IMF, the International Monetary Fund, as well as flu pandemic preparedness.

For more, we’re joined here in our firehouse studio by Bob Fertik, the president of Democrats.com, co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Bob. We don’t have much time. What do you understand is happening right now in the Congress around this war appropriations bill today?

BOB FERTIK: Amy, there’s a crucial vote this morning in the House. All the Democrat — all the Republicans are expected to vote no. If we get thirty-nine Democrats to vote no, we will be able to defeat the supplemental bill, at least for the time being. There are thirty-six Democrats, progressive Democrats, who have committed to voting no. As you said, fifty-one voted no earlier in May. So we need everybody to pick up the phone, call their representative at (202) 225-3121, and can ask them to vote no.

AMY GOODMAN: Who are the three Democrats you’re focusing on?

BOB FERTIK: Well, there are some New York members. There are Nydia Velázquez. There’s Ed Towns. There are progressive members all around the country. If you visit Democrats.com, at the top of the page, we have the list of who’s voting no and a link to those who could be persuaded to vote no.

AMY GOODMAN: Why — what is the leadership doing? What is Nancy Pelosi doing?

BOB FERTIK: Working as hard as they can to make sure that that bill passes.

AMY GOODMAN: What would it mean if it’s defeated, the war appropriations bill?

BOB FERTIK: It would mean they would have to discuss with progressive Democrats, led by Lynn Woolsey and Raul Grijalva and Donna Edwards, a plan to exit from Afghanistan and Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you make of — what you’re asking for is the Democrats to join with the Republicans in voting against the appropriations bill. Why are the Republicans against it?

BOB FERTIK: Because of the $5 billion for the IMF, which is a bailout for European banks.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, you’re asking Democrats to join with the Republicans.

BOB FERTIK: Well, we’re asking them to vote no on the bulk of the bill, which is the war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan.

AMY GOODMAN: And what would it mean for the war if you voted no — if the Congress members voted no?

BOB FERTIK: It would mean that there’s opposition, enough opposition in Congress that President Obama cannot assume a rubber stamp for continuing and expanding the war, as he wants to do, in Pakistan.

AMY GOODMAN: Democrats.com, what is it?

BOB FERTIK: It’s an independent site for progressive Democratic activists.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Bob Fertik, I want to thank you for being with us, president of Democrats.com.

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