Leahy says he’ll vote against spending bill if it has Iraq war money

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(Host intro) Senator Patrick Leahy will vote against a plan to allocate another $50 billion to continue the war in Iraq.

The amendment will be considered in the next 24 hours as part of a massive budget bill.

If the full Senate votes to add the Iraq war money to the legislation, Leahy says he’ll vote against the entire budget bill, even though it contains some of his priorities.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Leahy says the time has come for Congress to send a simple and clear message to the White House. That message is: There should be no more money for the war in Iraq.

When an omnibus budget bill came over to the Senate from the House this week, it didn’t include any additional money for the Iraq war. But Democratic leaders have agreed to add the funds as part of an overall budget compromise with the Bush Administration.

Leahy opposes the additional funds and he says he’ll vote against the final compromise budget, even though it includes several of his top priorities including a delay in the plan to require passports to travel to Canada, funding for a variety of Vermont based programs and a restriction on the sale of cluster bombs.

(Leahy) "But I am willing to vote against even my priorities to bring about an end to this war. I’m the only Vermonter who ever voted against the war in Vietnam, but that was a vote that finally brought it to an end because we cut off funds and that’s the only way you do it."

(Kinzel) Leahy says the hundreds of billions of dollars appropriated for the war should have been spent on a number of domestic priorities.

(Leahy) "That’s $365 billion a year that doesn’t go into medical research, doesn’t go into improving our schools, doesn’t go into retiring our national debt, and doesn’t go into finding cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s and AIDS and diabetes. We’ve gone way off course in this country and the only way we’re going to get back on course is to end our fixation on Iraq and start paying attention to those things that actually do enhance the security of the United States."

(Kinzel) Senator Bernie Sanders says he’ll also oppose efforts to provide money to continue the Iraq war and he’ll vote against the final budget bill if it includes these funds.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.


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