Bush, Congress agree on troop funds for now
Hawaii's senators support bill and representatives oppose it
Bowing to President Bush, the Democratic-controlled Congress grudgingly approved fresh billions for the Iraq war last night, minus the troop withdrawal time line that drew his earlier veto.
The Senate's 80-14 vote to send the legislation to the president came less than two hours after the House gave its approval on a vote of 280-142.
Democrats in both houses coupled their concession with pledges to challenge Bush's policies anew -- and force Republicans to choose over and over between the president and public sentiment on the unpopular war.
From the White House to the Capitol, the day's events closed out one chapter in an epic struggle pitting Congress against the president over a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,400 U.S. troops.
Hawaii's four-person congressional delegation split on the $95 billion Iraq war funding bill, with the two House members voting against continuing funding and the state's two senators voting for the measure.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie condemned the 280-142 House vote that passed the measure.
"Bullied by President Bush, Congress has passed the 'Stay the Course Act of 2007,'" said Abercrombie (D-Urban Honolulu). He was one of 140 Democrats and two Republicans who voted against the measure.
"We have given Bush a blank check for more war with no accountability of any kind. He even insisted that the U.S. Army's own standards for troop readiness be deleted," Abercrombie said.
"I cannot allow this president to send one more American soldier or Marine into combat without the equipment and training they are supposed to have," he said.
Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Rural Oahu, Neighbor Islands) noted that the bill does not include the time lines that were central to the Democrats' pledges to end or shorten the war.
"The fight to bring an end to this war is far from over," Hirono said.
In the Senate, however, Hawaii's Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka voted for the bill.
Akaka said he was disappointed that Bush had not worked with Congress to end the war.
Bush had vetoed one bill calling for a timetable to withdraw from Iraq, and Republicans in Congress had blocked an override of the veto.
Akaka said he voted in favor of the bill "because it was necessary to support the troops on the ground by providing the emergency funding."
Akaka said he would continue to work to "pressure President Bush to abandon his failed strategy and bring the troops home as soon as possible."
In the Senate, Inouye and Akaka joined 35 other Democrats and 42 Republicans and one independent to vote in favor of the measure.
"I voted for this bill because -- with congressional add-ons -- it bolsters the appropriations to ensure that our troops' needs and safety are fully met," Inouye said.
Akaka and Inouye originally voted against authorizing the Iraq war.
APPROVED BY CONGRESS
Highlights of the spending bill:
» $99.5 billion for the Defense Department, $94.5 billion of it for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
» $1.6 billion in U.S. aid for Iraq
» $3 billion for land mine-resistant vehicles
» $3 billion for military health care programs
» $1.8 billion for vets' care
» $1.1 billion for homeland security
» $6.4 billion for hurricane relief efforts on the Gulf Coast
» $3 billion for disaster farm aid
» More than $650 million for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
» $465 million for fighting wildfires
» $425 million for rural schools
» An increase in the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour by summer 2009