Rep. Woolsey: Majority Of Dems Will Vote Against War Funding

Rep. Woolsey: Majority Of Dems Will Vote Against War Funding

By Kyle Trygstad - December 2, 2009

For most of the public policy decisions in the first 10 months of his presidency, President Obama has enjoyed the backing of the liberal wing of his party. However, Obama's latest move -- sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan -- places him at odds with many of his most ardent supporters in Congress.

The two co-chairs of the 82-member Congressional Progressive Caucus -- the largest subgroup in Congress -- oppose the troop surge and are just two of a sizeable number of Democrats who are likely to vote against its funding.

"I believe that the majority of Democrats are going to vote against funding for an escalation in Afghanistan," Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) told RealClearPolitics in an interview last night following Obama's speech at West Point.

Woolsey's fellow co-chair, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), has said he may support a war surtax that has been introduced by Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.) to fund the combat operation, but such a funding mechanism is not expected to have much traction in Congress or at the White House. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said yesterday he does not currently support a new tax on Americans during a down economy.

Woolsey said she does not support taxing Americans for a war they do not support. Polls in the last two months have shown support for increasing troop levels in Afghanistan below 50 percent, and a Gallup survey released yesterday found Obama's approval rating on his handling of Afghanistan at 35 percent -- down 21 points since July.

"I was pleased that he took time to think it over, but his advisers are primarily military on this one and that's what a military person would recommend," said Woolsey. "It was a good speech, but I remain opposed to sending more combat troops. I don't see any military solution to the situation in Afghanistan."

In an MSNBC interview last night, another leading progressive in Congress, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who chairs the anti-war Out of Iraq Caucus, said she "cannot" support the president and will vote against funding the effort.

"I'm terribly saddened," said Waters. "He's backed against a wall with a strategy that I think has no end. It doesn't really resonate with me."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) withheld support in a statement released last night, saying only that Obama had "articulated a way out of this war" and that the "American people and the Congress will now have an opportunity to fully examine this strategy."

Hours before the speech, four members of Congress held a press conference at the Capitol to denounce the troop surge. They agreed that Congress should be allowed to fully debate the move before any troops are deployed.

The three Democrats there -- Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus -- said there is a distinct unease within the Democratic caucus about the decision to send more troops and that its funding is far from a sure thing.

"We haven't done any whip counts," said McGovern. "We don't know where the votes are. We know there's uneasiness."

Feingold spoke out about the move Tuesday during the weekly Senate Democratic Caucus luncheon, and said that he was not alone in voicing his displeasure.

"A group of us will be taking action," said Feingold. "Action can include not permitting funding, a resolution for pulling out troops... As far as I'm concerned everything would be on the table."

Kyle Trygstad is a Washington correspondent for RealClearPolitics. Email him at: Follow him on Twitter @KyleTrygstad.

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