From the NY Times:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 The Senate gave its final approval on Monday to President Bush’s request for $87.5 billion to occupy and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, completing Congressional action on the largest emergency spending bill ever sought by a president.
The Senate’s action came on a voice vote with only six members present, meaning that the decisions of individual members on the administration’s vision for Iraq were not recorded. Not voting on the record appealed to both Republicans nervous about explaining the amount to their constituents, and Democrats who did not want their patriotism questioned for opposing the bill. On Friday, the House voted 298 to 121 in favor of the bill. The bill now goes to the president for his signature.
Senator Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat who has been the loudest Congressional challenger of the administration’s Iraq policy, was the lone voice shouting no during the vote, a contrast to the 12 senators who opposed the emergency spending bill, known as a supplemental, in a preliminary vote last month.
This way, Republicans can deny supporting the bill if public opinion really turns sour but Democrats (with the commendable exception of Byrd) can deny opposing it, in the unlikely event that everything goes swimmingly. I guess the only real surprise here is that they don’t use this dodge more often.
And it wasn’t Democratic critics who forced a Republican-run Senate to cast an unrecorded vote on the occupation. It was Republicans, who voted for the funding but who lack all confidence in the president’s chosen course.
Be that as it may, I would have liked to have seen a few more Democrats following Byrd’s example…