Dems work to ease tensions on bill

first_imgLeaders said they were hopeful they could sway enough Democrats to support the $124 billion plan, but a handful of left-of-center lawmakers, including Waters, have declared they won’t back it. “I am philosophically opposed to the war,” Waters told reporters after the private meeting. “We’re voting to give the president of the United States almost $100 billion to continue the war. I can’t support it.” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he was hopeful that Democrats could get the votes to prevail, and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the party’s chief vote-counter, said there was significant support for it. “Have we got 218 votes for this? I don’t know. We’re trying to find out. But we’re much closer today than we were yesterday,” Clyburn said. Still, lingering tensions on Iraq were aired at a meeting of House Democrats, according to those who attended. Waters told Pelosi that the proposed funding measure did not reflect the sentiments of a group of liberals who call themselves the “Out of Iraq” caucus and favor denying funding for the war and using the money instead for a withdrawal. Pelosi argued that the measure would accomplish their goals, and she went on to criticize Waters and other members of the group who abruptly left a meeting about the plan last week to hold a news conference saying they opposed it. In remarks to reporters, Waters denied having an angry exchange with Pelosi. “They’ve done the best job that they can do,” Waters said of House leaders. Lawmakers and aides who were present at the session said it was a heated moment that reflected the difficulties leaders have experienced getting agreement on the funding measure. “There is still some frustration – it’s just human,” said Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., a liberal who is supporting the funding measure. Pelosi also fielded criticism from lawmakers for removing language from the bill barring military action against Iran without congressional approval. She said the issue would be addressed in future legislation. “We’re having folks expressing every doubt, every reservation, every aspiration they have for this bill,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., another supporter. In a bid to broaden its appeal, leaders stripped the Iran requirement and omitted language favored by several liberal members that would have specifically prohibited funding of military operations after fall 2008. While the liberals said this threat would help enforce the deadline, Democratic leaders viewed the politically charged language as unnecessary. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Tempers flared on Iraq among Democrats on Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fielded criticism from an anti-war congresswoman over liberals’ concern that the party is not doing enough to end the war. Pelosi’s behind-closed-doors exchange with Rep. Maxine Waters of California – described as heated by lawmakers and aides who asked not to be identified because of the session’s private nature – came as House leaders made progress in their quest for votes on a war spending bill that would require U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by 2008. Several Democrats said they had been persuaded to support the measure – the party’s first binding action to challenge President George W. Bush’s war policies – after last-minute changes and a weekend at home with constituents. The bill is slated for a test vote Thursday in the Appropriations Committee. It is proving a formidable test of Democratic leaders, who are steering a tricky path between liberals who oppose any funding for the military effort and conservatives who do not want to restrict unduly the commander in chief. last_img

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