Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA 7, Seattle) earned a well-deserved reputation as an anti-war Congressman ("Baghdad Jim") during the Bush years.
Once the balance of power shifted to the Democrats and Barack Obama took control of the White House with promises to withdraw troops from Iraq, though, McDermott appeared to change his mind, voting to grant the Democratic President's request for funding the war in Afghanistan—to "give the president a chance to implement his policies," according to spokesman Ed Shelleby.
Was Democrat McDermott playing partisan politics? Was he suddenly pro-war now that his party controlled the White House?
Nope. When the president announced in December 2009 that he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, McDermott went back to his anti-war stance and has been calling for a withdrawal ever since.
He stuck to his word on July 1, when the House of Representatives voted on a series of amendments to HR 4899, a bill authorizing emergency supplemental funds for the war in Afghanistan. The amendments would have set conditions on the use of President Obama's war chest. Of the five amendments, one would have limited all military funding in Afghanistan to the protection and withdrawal of forces already on the ground, effectively denying Obama's request for 30,000 additional troops; the other would have required the President to set forth a timetable on removing US forces from Afghanistan.
McDermott voted for both amendments, the majority of his fellow Democrats voted against them, and both amendments died on the House floor. The bill that ultimately passed authorizes $37 billion for the troops in Afghanistan, stopgap funding through October until the defense budget itself gets voted on.
McDermott has voted for just about every resolution calling for a withdrawal timetable in the last eight years, including one this past March sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) demanding a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan in 30 days. Most recently, McDermott voted against additional war funding in May and July of 2009. Each time he was joined by less than 30 other Democrats.
It's noteworthy that in the July 1 vote, while McDermott was still on the losing end, he was one of 93 House Democrats—including Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA 1), (the only other Washington Democrat to vote with him)—to vote against continuing the war. While still outnumbered by the 157 Democrats who helped kill the amendment, the growing number of Democrats in favor of withdrawal is growing, reflecting an increasing unease in the ranks with their president's war agenda.
"I brought my rubber stamp to the floor today because I want to remind everyone that tomorrow you have got to bring your rubber stamps to endorse the President's proposal in Iraq," McDermott said in a June 2006 speech. Back then, he was ripping into a GOP-sponsored House resolution that explicitly refused to consider a withdrawal date. Four years later, McDermott is as intolerant of rubber-stamping war measures as ever, regardless of who has control over the White House.
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