Disillusioned Obey to oppose Afghan funding bill
By Ben Pershing
Retiring Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) will vote against a bill to fund military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq Tuesday afternoon, an usual step for an Appropriations Committee chairman and a sign of how disillusioned Obey has become with the Afghan war effort and with the Obama administration's priorities.
In one of the last acts of his four-decade congressional career, Obey said on the House floor Tuesday: "I have a double, and conflicting, obligation. As chairman, I have the obligation to bring this supplemental before the House to allow the institution to work its will. But I also have the obligation to my conscience to indicate - by my individual vote - my profound skepticism that this action will accomplish much more than to serve as a recruiting incentive for those who most want to do us ill."
Obey has become increasingly critical in recent years of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, arguing against throwing billions more dollars into the venture and in favor of hastening plans for a troop withdrawal, largely because he considers the Afghan government an uncertain and ineffective partner.
"Even if we could have greater confidence in that government's capacity, it would likely take so long that it will obliterate our ability to make the kinds of long term investments in our own country that are so desperately needed," Obey said.
Obey has been a strong advocate of adding $10 billion in emergency funds to the war supplemental bill, money that would be sent to states to prevent layoffs of teachers and school administrators. Obey put that money in the original House bill along with a proposed $500 million cut in Obama's signature Race to the Top education initiative, angering the White House and drawing a veto threat.
The Senate stripped that extra funding from the bill before passage, putting House Democrats in a difficult position. The House could still decide to move the education money in a separate measure this week before it leaves for August recess.
For Obey, the supplemental bill's journey has been a depressing chapter of his last year in office.
"What's happened with this bill is a good indication of the tensions and the false choices that we face," he said.
July 27, 2010; 11:44 AM ET
Categories: Capitol Briefing | Tags: afghanistan supplemental, david obey
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