Maybe Republicans and Democrats aren't so far apart after all. When the House voted Tuesday to send the latest war spending bill to President Obama for his signature, majorities of both parties supported it. The $59 billion bill passed 308-114.
Before the vote, there had been some speculation that the bill would fail. It was under consideration under an expedited procedure that requires a two-thirds majority: 290 of 435 votes. Given their growing opposition to the war, it was not clear how many of the 254 Democrats would support it. In an unusual twist, Democratic leaders were counting on Republicans to push the bill over the finish line.
But they need not have worried. 148 Democrats voted for it, while 102 voted against. (160 Republicans voted in favor, with 12 against.)
This bill has been bouncing between the House and Senate since March, when the House first passed it. The Pentagon says it needs the money before Congress leaves for its August recess. But Democrats, particularly in the House, have been trying to attach domestic spending, such as money to avert teacher layoffs. Republicans, and some Democrats, have turned back those efforts, threatening to vote against the war bill if it contained unrelated spending.
Meanwhile, with violence growing in Afghanistan, anti-war Democrats have been increasingly restive, particularly after this week's leak of thousands of documents showing the difficulty of the struggle. In the past, House Democratic leaders have had to split the bill in two to allow separate votes on the war and non-war spending. The bill wouldn't have passed without giving the anti-war and anti-spending groups separate votes.
This time, the bill from the Senate, which includes funding for the war, domestic disasters and relief in Haiti, was relatively clean. That ensured the strong Republican support.