How Divided Are Democrats Over the War?

Liberals in the House challenge the president's war-funding measure

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A $59 billion bill providing funds for the war in Afghanistan cleared Congress on Tuesday. In the House, 102 Democrats opposed the measure while 148 Democrats supported it. Does this suggest that the war effort is driving a wedge between pro-war and anti-war liberals? It depends on who's analyzing the news story. The New York Times says the vote "showed deepening divisions and anxiety among Democrats." Others think the media narrative is overblown.

  • 'House Democrats Buck President Obama on Afghanistan' reads a headline at ABC News. The video segment emphasizes deep divisions in the party:

  • This Was a Struggle, writes Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly: "The House took it, but it wasn't easy. In particular, many liberal Dems had plenty of reasons to balk -- opposition to the wars, dissatisfaction over the scrubbed domestic spending, and revelations surrounding the WikiLeaks materials -- and opposed the spending measure in fairly large numbers."
  • Silent Support from Pelosi and Reid, notes Jonathan Karl and John Parkinson at ABC News: "Democratic supporters of the war kept a low profile, and so did the Democratic leadership. During the debate, neither Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi nor any other Democratic House leader came forward to speak in favor of funding the war. It was 160 Republicans who made the case for Obama administration's policy on Afghanistan, giving the president the votes he needed to continue funding the war. Only 12 Republicans voted against the war funding."
  • Don't Exaggerate the Disagreement Going On, writes James Joyner at Outside the Beltway: "The ABC story is... comical. The headline would make you think that the bill failed. Instead, it sailed through 308-114. A Democratic-controlled House not only didn't block funding for the war, but it doubled down on it... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats -- including Vice President Joe Biden -- are hostile to the president's policy. That's doubtless a problem. But it's not going to matter in November and will affect the 2012 elections only if Obama continues pressing an unpopular agenda that he himself seems to only tenuously support. I wouldn't count on that."
  • Anti-War Movement in Congress 'Remains Weak' But It's a Factor, writes David Rogers at Politico: "Obama can't ignore a growing split among House Democrats over the cost of his military commitments at a time of tighter budgets and economic troubles at home.. The scene was in stark contrast with just a year ago when all but 32 Democrats supported a still larger $105.9 billion war funding measure for Afghanistan and Iraq operations."
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