From NBC's Mike Viqueira
House Democrats today announced that they will vote to send President Bush and his successor $184 billion to spend on the war, plus a couple of other items that are politically popular but have not been requested by the president and may be veto bait.
The "emergency" package, to be considered on Thursday of this week, gives the president much of the $108 billion that has asked for the remainder of this year, plus $66 billion that would sustain the war effort into the first months of a new administration.
But the House will also be voting on an extension of unemployment benefits, the establishment of a new GI Bill for educating veterans, $500 million more in international food aid, and money for Louisiana levees. These items will be hard for many Republicans to oppose, though the president has not asked for any of it to be included in the war spending package.
There also will be a vote to attach some strings to the war money. Redeployment out of combat in Iraq would have to begin within 30 days and be completed by the end of 2009; troops would have to have as much "dwell time" out of theater as in; any treaty with Iraq would have to be ratified by the Senate; and Iraqis would have to match American spending dollar for dollar on reconstruction and development in their country.
There will also be more money for Pentagon weapons development, which some may not see as "emergency" spending that isn't paid for.
PROCESS ALERT: Beware all ye who enter here...
Remember when Democrats promised to be more fair to the minority if they were elected to run the place? How they wouldn't hold votes open and that they would allow more floor amendments and they would let the committee process work its will? That turned out to be a lot of hooey. They have discovered that it's near impossible to get anything done and be procedurally "fair," at least as they themselves defined the term in the run up to the 2006 election.
SO... this massive war spending bill will NOT go through a committee, will likely NOT be subject to any amendments put forth by Republicans, and will be presented in such a way as to take away the one motion to present an alternative that is almost always afforded to the minority.
How do they get away with it? First, because as the majority they can. Second, it's really the only way to get done what they need and want to get done. Third, they don't' feel too badly about it, because they got it in the neck in a similar fashion for 12 long years. And finally, because they know that the public doesn't care to hear whining about the process, and that reporters, producers, and editors would therefore rather not take up space and time telling people about it.