This article originally appeared at The Nation on May 26, 2011.
Fourteen House Democrats voted nay or did not vote on the H.R. 1540 McGovern amendment favoring an accelerated Afghanistan withdrawal today, enough to prevent its passage in a hectic day of Congressional maneuvering. Three of those not voting were strong anti-war liberals, Bob Filner (CA-51), Jesse Jackson Jr. (IL-2), and Donald Payne (NJ-10). One of the members, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8), was unable to vote.
With 217 votes, it might have been possible to recruit one more Republican vote, thus making the measure the first official Congressional opposition in the history of the decade-long war. The measure then would have faced the Senate Democratic majority with a challenge to go along with their House colleagues in sending the proposal to the president for approval.
The eight Democrats who voted nay were: Jason Altmire (PA-4), John Barrow (GA-12), Dan Boren (OK-2), Joseph Donnelly (IN-2), Larry Kissell (NC-8), Jim Matheson (UT-2), Mike Ross (AR-4), and Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2).
The six recorded as not voting were: Filner, Giffords, Jackson, Payne, Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4), and John Olver (MA-1).
The close vote either represents an absolute House division or an example of sending a message with a tacit understanding that the measure would not take on official momentum.
The final vote was 204-215-13.
In worse news, the House majority voted to expand the current authorization of the war on terrorism beyond Al Qaeda to any potential terrorist threat. The expanded mission is opposed by President Obama and faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
In somewhat better news, an amendment by Rep. John Conyers banning U.S. ground troops in Libya passed 417-4-11. A Barbara Lee measure prohibiting expenditures on permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan passed on a voice vote.