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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Budget battle shows how the troops get used as political pawns



support-our-troops-flag-ribbon.jpgThe U.S. House this afternoon passed a one-week deal to keep the government running. Every Florida Republican voted yes; every Florida Democrat voted no.

Though it has no chance of passing the Senate, and would meet President Obama's veto, the stop-gap gives Republicans cover as the government heads toward a shutdown. We tried, is the message. But it's also an attempt to paint Democrats as unpatriotic. Tacked onto the spending plan was a provision to fund the military for the rest of the fiscal year.

Rank and file Republicans swiftly issued statements accusing Democrats of hurting the troops. Here's Orlando freshman Rep. Sandy Adams:

"It is because of our brave men and women in uniform that Senator Reid and his Democrat colleagues can sit in the Senate Chamber and enjoy their freedom. While our military men and women are fighting to keep America free in the face of three conflicts, Senator Reid and his colleagues are irresponsibly doing everything they can to shut down the government."

Of course, Democrats have played the same game.

In years' past, the Democrats have attached controversial measures to defense bills, knowing many Republicans will be hard pressed to say no. And if they do, Democrats have an easy shot (ala Sandy Adams). In 2009, Democrats attached a measure extending the hate crimes law to gays, accomplishing a long held goal. Most Republicans voted no.

"The inclusion of the controversial language of the hate crimes legislation, which is unrelated to our national defense, is deeply troubling," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said at the time.

Yesterday, President Obama invoked the troops as a reason against a shutdown, saying they would face a delay in pay.

More examples of the messaging from today's vote:

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor: “It is our duty to ensure that our troops and their families receive a paycheck on time and have the resources they need. These brave men and women should be our top priority, as they have made protecting our country their top priority.”

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta: “If Senate Democrats fail to act and the government shuts down, that would force our troops, who are now fighting three wars, to work without pay. That is unacceptable. Our troops and their families have sacrificed too much already to become victims of the Senate Democrats’ failure to lead – or even follow – on a long-term bill to fund the government and cut spending."

[Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2011 4:44pm]


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