Welch breaks with Democratic leadership over budget bill

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch plans to break with the Democratic leadership, and vote against a budget bill, because it contains no deadlines for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

VPR’s John Dillon has more: 

(Dillon) Congress hopes to break a budget deadlock this week by passing a half-trillion dollar spending bill.

The legislation would fund domestic programs – and it also would contain up to $70 billion to pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Welch says he won’t vote for the bill, because it lacks a timetable for getting U.S. troops out of Iraq.

(Welch) "I think it’s wrong on the substance and wrong on the procedure. We should not give blank check funding for continuation of a blank check war policy. I favor Congress using the power of the purse to fund an orderly withdrawal of the troops and bring them home.”

(Dillon) The congressional resolution that has kept the federal government running expires at the end of the week.

So Democratic leaders have negotiated with the White House over the new spending bill.

The plan calls for continued funding for the war in exchange for new spending on domestic programs.

(Welch)  "Well, that’s a bad tradeoff. I mean if we’re going to restore people’s respect in the institution we have to be willing to be accountable. And part of that is that we vote yes or no, so people can judge us, where we stand on war funding. And to combine it with domestic projects is simply the wrong thing. They should each stand and fall on their own merits."

(Dillon) Welch has been criticized by some constituents for not doing enough to end the war. But the congressman says he will only support bills that include deadlines for bringing troops home from Iraq.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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