87 billion dollar

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The "87 Billion Dollars" for Iraq

This phrase refers to the Senate bill S1689 and House Resolution H.R. 3289: Emergency Supplemental Appropriations For Iraq And Afghanistan Security And Reconstruction, 2004; which achieved final passage (of the conference report) on 11/3/2003, and was signed by President George W. Bush on 11/6/2003.

However, there was another bill - which John Kerry co-sponsored in the Senate along with Joe Biden, Jon Corzine, and Dianne Feinstein - S1634, called the "Iraq Security and Stabilization Fund Act" and introduced on September 17, 2003.

The synopsis for S1634 reads: "To provide funds for the security and stabilization of Iraq by suspending a portion of the reductions in the highest income tax rate for individual taxpayers." The point of the bill was to avoid running up the deficit further.

The bill was read and referred to committee (i.e. killed). According to Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler, George Bush threatened to veto S1634; in other words, by his own logic, Bush threatened to veto money for the troops. Worse, Bush's veto threat helped to defeat the bill, as it died in committee.

Democratic Perspective

11 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 0 Republicans voted against the final Senate version of S1689:

Boxer (D-CA); Byrd (D-WV); Edwards (D-NC); Graham (D-FL); Harkin (D-IA); Hollings (D-SC); Jeffords (I-VT); Kennedy (D-MA); Kerry (D-MA); Lautenberg (D-NJ); Leahy (D-VT); and Sarbanes (D-MD).

This vote became important in the Presidential race of the United States general election, 2004, when the Bush campaign excoriated John Kerry for his "vote against supporting the troops".

There were several amendments proposed. Most Democrats supported the Biden Amdt. No. 1796, which called for funding S1689 by "suspending a portion of the reductions in the highest income tax rate for individual taxpayers".

The full list of amendments can be found here.

Talking Points

Actually, it was Bush who threatened to veto a bill Kerry co-sponsored to provide $87B to the troops by rolling back Bush's tax cuts on the wealthy elite. Effectively, Bush put his "have mores" ahead of our troops.

Kerry was telling the truth -- although he put it rather badly -- when he claimed that he "voted to provide the money before he voted against it". That's because there were two bills (hence, two options) for providing the funds. The first was S.1634, which Kerry co-sponsored but died in committee because of the Bush veto threat.

The bill that passed, S. 1689, had no provision for paying for the funding; thus, it provided $87 billion by running up the deficit further. An amendment offered by Biden (discussed below) which would have paid for the bill by rolling back tax cuts on the wealthy was defeated (tabled) by the majority Republicans.

The bottom line is this: Kerry proposed a bill to fund the troops. He proposed to pay for the funding, too, without running up the deficit. Bush threatened to veto a bill for funding the troops if it didn't run up the deficit. The GOP agreed, and their version passed.

The Biden Amendment: Roll Back the Tax Cut for Wealthiest 1%

The Biden amendment had seven co-sponsors: John Kerry, Lincoln Chafee, Jon Corzine, Dianne Feinstein, Frank Lautenberg, Thomas Carper, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Biden amendment was tabled (failed to be incorporated in the bill) by a roll call vote of 57 - 42, recorded here. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) joined 41 Democrats in voting against the motion to table; the following seven Democrats defected on this vote: Baucus (D-MT); Bayh (D-IN); Breaux (D-LA); Lincoln (D-AR); Miller (D-GA); Nelson (D-NE); and Pryor (D-AR).

John Kerry indicated during his presidential campaign in 2004, that he would have voted for the final version of the bill had it included the Biden amendment.

Press releases by John Kerry, related to the Biden Amendment:


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