Last night, the U.S. Senate attempted to move on the House’s version of a war-funding bill, providing much-needed funds to the Pentagon for Afghanistan and Iraq as well as billions of dollars for domestic programs. But the bill failed to get cloture, 46-51, with 10 members of the Democratic caucus in opposition. The Senate then held a voice vote on its own bill — including the military funding, stripping out the domestic spending and including disaster relief and aid for Haiti.
The House version of the bill included $10 billion in “edujobs” funding — money for local governments to keep as many as 200,000 teachers working as the states face yawning budget gaps in the coming year. (The White House threatened to veto the bill if it included the funding, because it paid for it in part by taking money from Race to the Top, the Education Department’s signature effort to improve schools.) It also included billions for summer jobs programs, Pell Grants and other measures. Those have now officially failed.
The House now needs to take up the whittled-down Senate version. The House bill included $80 billion in total spending, and $37 billion in war funding. The Senate version includes $33 billion for the Department of Defense and about $4 billion for the State Department’s “civilian surge.” The House has one more week before August recess. The Senate has two.
Shortly after the vote, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, applauded the funding for the Pentagon, but criticized Republicans for blocking the social spending. “A similar bill in the House included measures to spur economic growth, including funding to support summer jobs, assistance to save 140,000 education jobs and provisions to make college more affordable, resources for border security, and funding to rectify decades-old injustices suffered by black farmers across the country and Native American trust account holders,” he said. “Unfortunately, Republicans blocked those measures as they continue to push their job-killing agenda and harm our economic recovery.”
He said the Senate would seek other ways to pass the domestic funding.
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