Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. (Photo: Getty Images)
House leaders appear ready to push ahead with a floor vote on the next war funding bill as early as Tuesday.
It's not yet clear that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has persuaded enough fellow Democrats to support it. Democrats are the ones who'll have to supply the votes because Republicans say they are going to stay united and vote against it.
"Nancy's working it," said Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John P. Murtha , D-Pa. "It's going to be a very close vote."
The spending package totals $106 billion.
Republicans particularly object to the $5 billion in the bill to let President Obama leverage $108 billion in additional lending by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
A total of 168 Republicans supported the bill when the House passed another version of the measure on a vote of 368-60, on May 14 . Fifty-one anti-war Democrats opposed the bill at that time.
Lynn Woolsey of California, a leader of the anti-war House Democrats, said the White House was threatening to withdraw support from freshmen who opposed the bill, saying, "You'll never hear from us again." She said the House leadership is also targeting the freshmen.
"It's really hard for the freshmen," she said. "Nancy's pretty powerful."
Another anti-war leader, Dennis J. Kucinich , D-Ohio, also predicted a close vote.
"There's a good number of members holding solid," said Kucinich. "From what I can see, people are concerned about going home and having to explain why they voted for the war when their constituents are opposed to it, and explain why they switched, if they switch."
Some liberal Democrats in the House were assuaged by a conference committee decision to drop a Senate-passed provision that would have barred the public release of photos depicting abuse of U.S. prisoners.
Louise M. Slaughter , D-N.Y., said she would now support the bill.
"I was never about photos," Slaughter said. "I was about freedom of information."
Woolsey suggested that arguments by Democratic leaders that lawmakers should support Obama's new strategy for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan may prevail in the short term.
"People want to give the new president a chance on this, but when that [time frame] starts to look like it might not be 2011 but 2012, 2015, 2020, you're going to start to hear a Democratic outcry," she said.