With G.O.P. in Command, Senate Votes to Shift Money From Iraq War to Border Security
WASHINGTON, April 26 — Prodded by Republicans, the Senate voted on Wednesday to trim President Bush’s financing request for the Iraq war by $1.9 billion and to use that money to improve border security.
The vote, 59 to 39, was on an amendment to an emergency spending
measure and was cast on a day of difficult choices for Republicans.
They passed up opportunities to strip the bill of provisions unrelated
to its primary purpose of paying for hurricane relief and military
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The action was unusual
because Republicans have been adamant that the war is the highest
priority and have been quick to attack Democrats who show signs of
wavering on the issue. Three Republicans voted against the shift in
money, seven Democrats voted for it and two Democrats did not vote.
Mr. Bush promising to veto the $106.5 billion spending measure unless
it is pared to less than $95 billion, senators who wanted to improve
border security, a cause that grassroots conservatives have declared a
main goal this election year, felt they had to do so without letting
the underlying bill expand.
“This bill is about national defense,
especially relative to terrorism,” said Senator Judd Gregg, the New
Hampshire Republican who is the amendment’s lead sponsor. “And, yes,
fighting the war in Iraq is critical to this war on terrorism. Fighting
the war in Afghanistan is critical to this war on terrorism. But I have
to think equally important is making sure that our borders are secure.”