GOP Hail Mary On Troop Funding Fails

MCT/Newscom
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With funds for the troops fast running out, and the clock ticking towards a deadline on healthcare, Republicans tried to block a key defense spending bill last night in order to delay Senate debate on a major health reform bill.

Of the 40 Republicans members in the Senate, only three voted with all 60 Democrats to end the filibuster of the defense bill.

The filibuster in and of itself delays debate on the health care bill by 30 hours. But the hope was that the filibuster would succeed forcing Democrats to waste yet another day in order to pass an emergency spending measure.

As it happens, though, Democrats ended the filibuster. And now, the Republicans will have to live down new, unfriendly talking points.

Senate Republicans Threatened to Deny Our Troops Important Funding to Stall Health Reform

* Senate Republicans have made the calculation that it’s acceptable to deny our troops critical funding so they can continue their crusade against health reform.

* Republicans are so intent on thwarting even a debate on health reform that they would put essential funding for our troops on the line.

* At a time of war, it’s inconceivable that Senate Republicans would stoop to this level.

* Regardless of their position on health reform, their actions to block the DoD bill have been inappropriate and irresponsible.

* This legislation:

* Funds more than $100 billion for operations, maintenance and personnel for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than $23 billion for their equipment

* Provides more than $150 billion to train our troops and prepare them for battle

* Funds almost $30 billion for the health care of our service members and their families

* Gives our troops a well-deserved pay raise

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) broke with his standard practice of voting no on defense bills to vote with his party this time, in order to forestall GOP shenanigans. Moderate Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) also voted to end the filibuster, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), who’s running for Governor of Texas also defected from the GOP.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) voted to continue the defense spending filibuster–an extremely rare practice for ranking members of the Appropriations Committee. Now, Democrats find themselves in the rare position of running against the GOP by accusing them of abandoning the troops. My how the tables have turned.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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