As part of their comprehensive efforts to kill health-care reform, Senate Republicans attempted to filibuster legislation that funds the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, the Republicans' efforts to stop health care don't just involve blocking votes to do with that legislation; they're literally trying to block everything in order to prevent the Senate from even getting to the point where health-care reform comes to the floor -- it's a bank-shot filibuster. I don't need to tell readers that, had all but three Democrats opposed a war-funding bill just a few years ago, cries of treason would ring out from aggrieved Republicans -- like Sen. John McCain, who voted against the bill because of earmarks in it. Of course, those earmarks were put in the bill to convince McCain's fellow Republicans to vote for the bill because of the filibuster that McCain joined. Then, those Republicans, like Thad Cochran, backed out on their deals and got their earmarks while voting no on the bill. Classy.
Sen. Russ Feingold's behavior is instructive here; Feingold does not support these wars and Republicans hoped he would join them in their procedural shenanigans, but the senator from Wisconsin had the good sense to help the end the filibuster even as he intends to vote "no" on the bill when it comes time for the final up-or-down decision, issuing a statement that said, "I am not going to be part of a partisan and cynical effort to delay passage of the defense bill in order to block the Senate from considering health-care reform."
This is why, despite the higher support for the War in Afghanistan among Republicans, the president can't really rely on their help in Congress if his own party continues its intransigence on the subject -- the GOP will drop any principle, including their support for escalation in Afghanistan, to score meager political points or delay the passage of the majority agenda.
-- Tim Fernholz