Talk about strange bedfellows. Tuesday night, liberal Democrat Jared Polis joined Colorado’s two Republicans — U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn — voting against the $106 billion Iraq-Afghanistan war funding bill, which narrowly passed the House of Representatives on a 226-202 vote with strong Democratic support. The remainder of the state’s House members, all four Democrats, voted for the bill.
Polis was among 32 anti-war House Democrats voting against the bill, down from 51 who opposed it when it was first introduced last month. Democratic leaders needed to sway some of their anti-war colleagues because of nearly solid opposition from House Republicans, including some who lambasted Democrats last year for “failing to fund our troops in harm’s way” by voting against a similar supplemental bill.
“Nothing has changed,” said a Polis spokeswoman, who pointed to a statement Polis released last month.
“Unfortunately, the positive aspects of this bill cannot hide its underlying premise — funding a misguided war in Iraq and Afghanistan — a policy that I believe must be changed,” Polis said when he first voted against the war funding bill. “At its heart, this bill is about increasing and prolonging U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, which I do not support.”
The supplemental appropriation bill includes roughly $80 billion for continued war efforts, bringing total war spending to nearly $1 trillion since the Sept. 11 attacks, with 70 percent devoted to the Iraq war, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The bill, which backers said was necessary to prevent the military from running out of money next month for war operations, also included billions in other spending, including $7.7 billion to fight swine flu and $10 billion in aid to Iraq, Pakistan and other countries.
But a $5 billion appropriation to the International Monetary Fund for increased loans to poor countries drew strong — and virtually united — Republican opposition to the measure. Only five GOP representatives voted in favor of the bill.
Coffman said in a statement his vote against the measure was really a vote for a “clean” supplemental funding bill, one without the money for the IMF.
“My hope is that my ‘no’ vote will help strip the IMF provision from the bill so that we have a War Supplemental that is limited to giving the required support for our troops,” Coffman said after the vote Tuesday.
An unidentified Democratic strategist pounced on the GOP opposition to the war funding measure, TPMDC reports: “George Bush and the Republican Party led us into this War and now [House Republican Leader John] Boehner and Co. vote to leave the troops high and dry for political reasons. This is a real game changer, one Republicans will be hearing about for a long time.”
The Senate could consider the bill as early as next week.