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McChrystal Situation Imperils War Funding Bill

U.S. forces are gearing up for their next major operation in Afghanistan -- to drive the Taliban out of it's birthplace Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark is embedded with the Marines in Afghanistan.
U.S. forces are gearing up for their next major operation in Afghanistan -- to drive the Taliban out of it's birthplace Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark is embedded with the Marines in Afghanistan. CBS

Passing an emergency war funding bill to pay for President Obama's 17,000 troop increase and continued efforts in Afghanistan was never going to be easy in the House. Liberals are weary of war, fiscal hawks are concerned about deficits and Republicans are increasingly willing to vote against troop funding if Democrats lard up the bills with measure that have nothing to do with war.

Democratic aides say that Gen. Stanley McChrystal made things a little more complicated. That funding is to pay for the execution of McChrystal's strategy. For his vision. One leadership aide said that the shocking profile of McChrystal in Rolling Stone raised serious questions about McChrystal's judgment and leadership at a time when they are struggling to get Democratic votes for the money. Now, the general has been relieved of duty and replaced by Gen. David Petraeus.

One Democratic aide said that deciding on the best way forward is complicated by members' belief that Republicans will just say no to everything so Democrats have to find ways to pass things with just Democratic votes. The aide said "it's like putting together a puzzle without a picture."

When asked what needs to happen for Republicans to support the bill, House minority leader John Boehner said this morning that he's "hopeful that the Democrat majority in Congress bring a clean supplemental to the floor of the House so that members can cast their votes."

60 Minutes: Stanley McChrystal

Democratic leadership aides said that they are still looking at a number of options to try to pass a supplemental bill that Defense Secretary Robert Gates says is needed by the July 4th recess:

  • Pass the Senate version- The Senate already passed a nearly $60 billion supplemental last month with bipartisan support. They actually added the war funding to a disaster relief bill that the House had already passed. This may be the simplest approach, and Republicans would be hard-pressed to vote against it, though there are signs they would prefer a House version. This option would disappoint rank and file Democratic members who would want to add some domestic spending.

  • Pass a House version with domestic spending and try to get enough Democratic members without the GOP. One of the most important progressives who wants domestic programs included in the war funding bill is the man responsible for shepherding the bill through Congress- Appropriations Chairman David Obey. Appropriations aide Ellis Brachmann said that Obey feels very strongly about the need to add additional funding to help keep teachers on the job as the country is struggling with economic recovery. Obey, who does not support the war in Afghanistan and said McChrystal should resign, circulated a plan last month that included $23 billion for states to avoid firing teachers. That number is too high for fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats who are wary about spending, especially this close to midterm elections. One leadership aide said that no one is sure if this is enough of a draw to get enough Democratic votes since they would lose Republicans with this option.

  • Parliamentary Gymnastics- Make Republicans go on the record against troop funding by structuring the bill in such a way that there's one vote on the troop funding, another on domestic spending, but make sure it's all part of the same package. This is just one of what a Democratic aide said is a myriad of options in terms of how to separate the bill to essentially carve out the votes by targeting specific voting blocks in the Congress.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer made the point yesterday that this funding is for troops on the ground in Afghanistan who "need further resources." Hoyer did admit, though, that the negative news out of Afghanistan, from McChrystal's comments to difficulties on the ground in the Helmand Province, "all of that is not helpful in terms of giving a sense of confidence to the American people or the Congress that this effort is being successful."

House Democrats don't need any more bad news as they try to move forward a bill that is already a heavy lift.

More Coverage:

McChrystal Relieved of Duty; Petraeus Tapped
Watch Obama's Statement
David Petraeus Brings Experience to the Job
What Happened in the Oval Office
In Afghanistan, a New General -- But An Old Strategy
Bob Schieffer and Bill Plante React to the Announcement
McChrystal Statement: I Resigned to See the Mission Succeed
McChrystal Situation Imperils War Funding Bill
Washington Unplugged: McChrystal Fallout Shakes Up Administration
Is McChrystal "Damaged Goods"?
Pictures: General McChrystal and President Obama Special Report: Afghanistan

Jill Jackson is a CBS News Capitol Hill Producer. You can read more of her posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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