Conservative media are claiming that the GOP is putting Democrats in a bind by cutting $12 billion in the one-week funding proposal while funding the military. Reporting on House and Senate budget negotiations, Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron adopted the GOP's characterization of the situation, stating:
CAMERON: House Republicans say if there's not a deal emerging from tonight's meeting with the president, they may push forward with that vote tomorrow. And if that's the case, it would leave it up to the Democrats in the Senate and the president to either accept the short-term extension or shut down the government on Friday night and deny funds to the troops.
Cameron also reported that the bill "has a rider to strengthen the prohibition on federal funds for abortion in D.C."
Similarly, National Review's Rich Lowry claimed that the "short-term measure is going to put Harry Reid and the White House in a tight spot." Lowry continued: "By putting the ball in their court, it puts them in the position of making the affirmative decision to shut the government and do it while turning away a bill to fund the military." Lowry concluded: "If they reject the bill anyway, it's going to make it easier to blame them for a shutdown; if they accept, Republicans will have gotten $22 billion in cuts even before a final deal."
It's rich for conservatives to be crowing about Republicans attaching irrelevant strings like abortion-related restrictions to a military funding bill.
By contrast, during the debate in 2007 and 2008 about war supplemental bills, conservatives were outraged when Democrats added a withdrawal timeline from Iraq to troop funding, a condition directly relevant to the military funding bill they were considering.
In March 2007, Senate Democrats were weighing a bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but the White House threatened to veto because the bill set a date certain to begin troop withdrawals from Iraq. As then-press secretary Dana Perino (and current Fox News contributor) put it, Democrats were holding the funding for the troops hostage:
PERINO: The war supplemental should remain focused on the needs of the troops, and should not be used as a vehicle for added non-emergency spending and policy proposals, especially domestic proposals, which should be fully vetted and considered on their own merits. This bill adds billions in unrequested spending that is largely unjustified and non-emergency. And because of the excessive and extraneous non-emergency spending it contains, if this legislation were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.
Congress should reject this legislation and promptly send the President a responsible bill that provides the funding and flexibility our troops need, and without holding funding for the troops hostage to unrelated spending.
Yet, writing at National Review Online, contributor Andrew Stiles reported on the current "Troop Funding Bill" this way:
In the absence of a long-term deal over how to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, Republicans decided to hold a vote Thursday on the "Troop Funding Bill," a one-week continuing resolution that cuts spending by $12 billion over that time period but ensures steady funding for the Defense Department through September 30.
The moves ratchets up pressure on Senate Democrats, who would for obvious reasons want to avoid the political fiasco of potentially causing a government shutdown by voting against the "Troop Funding Bill." It is also a public refutation of Sen. Chuck Schumer's repeated claims that the biggest gap in the negotiations "is not between Democrats and Republicans, it's between Republicans and Republicans," specifically the "extreme" Tea Party members.
In another NRO piece about the "Troop Funding Bill," Stiles accused Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of throwing a "flash tantrum" on the Senate floor for "slam[ing] the House Republicans' latest effort to avoid a government shutdown." Stiles further wrote:
[Reid] slammed the House Republicans' latest effort to avoid a government shutdown -- a one-week continuing resolution that cuts spending by $12 billion but also funds the Defense Department through September 30 to ensure that military personnel are paid even if the rest of the government shuts down -- calling it a "fantasy" that will never make it past the president's desk, and accused the GOP of "procrastinating" and "trying to avoid making the tough choices.
Coming from the leader of a Democratic-controlled Senate that could not pass a budget last year, even when Democrats still controlled the House, this line of criticism borders on delirious.
At this point, he's simply reading off an old script. Republicans are united behind the one-week measure, dubbed "The Troop Funding Bill." Outside groups like Heritage Action, Club for Growth, Tea Party Patriots, and other that agitated so aggressively over the last short-term resolution have remained conspicuously silent. Even Tea Party favorite Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.) is on board, because "the troops comes first." But to Harry Reid, funding the military is just "another diversion."
Here is what Rush Limbaugh said of then-Sen. Barack Obama's war-supplemental votes at the time: "Did he vote to fund the troops? To send them the armor and the bullets and reinforcement they needed while they were on the battlefield? No. He spoke out against it. All of it." But as we noted, Obama had voted to provide funds for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Similarly, Fox News' Chris Wallace at the time accused Democrats who supported a war supplemental bill that had a withdrawal timeline, but voted "no" on an Iraq funding bill that had no such deadline, of being willing to "let the money run out for the troops."