With funding for our country’s troops set to expire at midnight Friday evening, Senate Republicans attempted to block a vote on a crucial Department of Defense spending bill last night. Only three Senate Republicans voted with all 60 Democrats to end the filibuster, beginning a 30-hour periods when – according to parliamentary procedure – health care reform may not be debated.
So why did Republicans vote to oppose troop funding? According to an analysis by Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery at The Washington Post, "If the filibuster on the $626 billion defense bill had succeeded, Democrats would have had to scramble to find a way to fund the military operations, because a stopgap funding measure for the Pentagon will expire at midnight Friday. Such an effort to come up with another stopgap defense bill might have disrupted the very tight timeline on health care."
While the "GOP’s Hail Mary" on troop funding failed, as Brian Beutler noted, Republicans can no longer hide from the calculation they’ve made that it’s acceptable to deny our troops critical funding so they can continue their crusade against health reform.
At a time of war, it’s inconceivable that Senate Republicans would stoop to this level. This defense spending bill:
- 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
- Provides additional funding for the food stamps program
Extends from 9 to 15 months the COBRA health insurance subsidy for individuals who have lost their jobs
Extends expanded unemployment benefits, including increased payouts and longer
duration of benefits, through February 28, 2010
Senator Reid, baffled by Republicans’ destructive obstructionist tactics, had strong words for his friends on the other side of the aisle:
We are here in the middle of the night, but the reason is as clear as day: Senate Republicans so desperately want to turn their backs on Americans who are suffering and dying for want of decent health care, that they are threatening to turn their backs on America’s troops at wartime. Rarely has the Senate seen such a sad statement. Rarely have I seen such brazen irresponsibility. And rarely have our nation’s citizens received such little regard from their leaders. Our sons and daughters are fighting tonight and every night on our behalf. The least we can do is make sure they have the training and the equipment they need to succeed.