The Iraq supplemental vote: Breakdown of Democratic votes
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) got her magic number of 218 today.
She won passage of the Iraq war supplemental spending bill, setting benchmarks for progress in Iraq and a timetable for withdrawal of troops from the battlefield by the end of August 2008, with a final vote of 218-212.
Three members did not vote because of health reasons and one -- Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) -- voted present.
Pelosi got to 218 with the help of just two Republicans, Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.) and Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), who have become the most outspoken GOP critics of the war.
Pelosi's biggest problems were within in her own caucus, as fears rose and fell all week about how many moderate-conservative Democrats would oppose the bill as well as how many liberal-progressives.
In the end, Pelosi just managed to get the bill across the finish line, losing 14 Democrats voting 'nay' and Stark voting present. Of the no votes, she lost equally from the right and left wings of her caucus.
The bill is a long way from becoming law, as the Senate takes up the supplemental bill next week, and President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that sets a timeline for withdrawal. Regardless, this is Pelosi and her leadership team's biggest victory to date.
Here's a breakdown of which Democrats broke from the pack:
The moderate-conservatives: 7
Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Michael Michaud (D-Maine), Gene Taylor (D-Miss.). These no-votes for Pelosi are the most predictable in the caucus, as they are almost all members of the Blue Dog coalition, which includes members who are socially more conservative than most of the caucus but also are budget hawks opposed to large deficit spending.
Of the group, Barrow and Marshall are the most endangered politically, as they both won by less than 2,000 votes. They both hail from rural districts and are already being targeted by House Republicans in 2008. As unpopular as the war is nationally, it would be almost as unpopular in their districts to cast a vote that Republicans have called a "slow-bleed" measure against the troops.
Matheson is the type of incumbent who is talked about perennially by GOP strategists, although they've yet to knock off the incumbent, who cruised to a more than 20-point victory in 2006.
In Michaud's case, he voted no because he is strongly anti-war and, like the anti-war liberals below, is opposed to additional spending for the war.
The anti-war liberals: 7
Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Michael R. McNulty (D-N.Y.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Diane Watson (D-Calif.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). These votes come largely from the Out of Iraq Caucus, chaired by Waters, who opposes any further spending on the war. Unlike the mostly rural moderate-conservatives who voted no, this group is largely urban, representing several large cities: Los Angeles (Waters and Watson), Oakland (Lee), Cleveland (Kucinich), and Atlanta (Lewis).
With several dozen members, this caucus posed the greatest threat to Pelosi this week. Her margin of error was narrow, given that the potential GOP votes she was dealing with started with just 17: those 17 Republicans who voted with Pelosi last month on the non-binding resolution opposing the troop surge into Iraq.
As expected, the non-binding resolution was easier than binding legislation that deals with funding for troops in battle. So, starting with 233 Democrats, knowing two of her members were ill, Pelosi could only afford to lose about 15 votes among Democrats and have enough margin for error to pass the bill. (Republicans were down one seat because of the death of Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) and another because Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-Va.) is recovering from surgery.) Pelosi managed to coax enough members of the Out of Iraq Caucus into supporting her way forward in trying to end the Iraq war.
Not a single member of leadership, or a single chairman, opposed her on the vote, including Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). As chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee and Ways and Means Committee, respectively, Conyers and Rangel were also founding members of the Out of Iraq Caucus. They voted aye for Pelosi, in helping to deliver the speaker's biggest victory so far.
[Update: A Briefing reader points out that Pelosi was only missing one member for health reasons, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), who underwent heart bypass surgery earlier this week. The other missed vote for Democrats was Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), who just plain missed the most important vote of the 110th Congress. Watt later clarified for the Congressional Record that he would have voted 'aye' with Pelosi.]
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