House Passes War Bill, Adds Funds for Education

In a late night House vote, Connecticut Democrats supported an unsuccessful effort to put new demands on the Obama Administration as it executes its Afghanistan war strategy.

The House passed an approximately $80 billion war and domestic spending bill without those strings attached, but the final tally on several anti-war amendments demonstrated the increasing unease in Congress over the Afghanistan conflict.

All five members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation voted in favor of a measure that would have required President Barack Obama to conduct a new intelligence review of Afghanistan and to provide Congress with a detailed exit strategy by April 2011, including a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops. That amendment failed in a 260-to-162 vote.

Reps. John Larson, D-1st, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd, also voted in favor of a more restrictive amendment, which would have dictated that the war funds could only be used for a drawdown, not for further military combat operations.

“We need to get out of Afghanistan in a way that’s as timely and efficient” as possible, said Rep. John Larson, D-1st District. That amendment failed by 321-to-100. Reps. Joe Courtney, D-2nd, Jim Himes, D-3rd District, and Christopher Murphy, D-5th District, all voted against that provision.

None of the Connecticut lawmakers supported a measure that would have stripped all the Afghanistan funding out of the bill, a proposal that only garnered 25 yes votes.

The entire Connecticut delegation did support adding about $16 billion in new domestic spending to the measure, including $10 billion for an “education jobs fund” to help local school districts avoid teacher lay-offs.

“Without this infusion of federal dollars, the state wouldn’t be able to support critical teaching positions, putting our kids’ education in jeopardy,” Murphy said in a statement Friday.

The massive spending measure will now have to go back to the Senate, which did not include the education funds in its version of the bill. The Senate will take the bill up after a week-long 4th of July recess.