Topeka At 1 a.m. Dec. 18, Kansas’ two U.S. senators, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, both Republicans, voted against a motion to stop debate on a bill funding the Department of Defense for the fiscal year.
The motion for cloture required 60 votes and was approved 63-33. If Brownback and Roberts had their way, the bill to fund the military would have been in trouble and the focus of a filibuster.
A day later, Brownback, who is running for governor of Kansas, and Roberts voted for the Defense appropriations bill, which passed 88-10.
Brownback issued news releases about how the Defense bill was good for Kansas.
“The United States has the best military in the world, and Kansas leads the way in innovative defense technologies and top-notch military bases,” said Brownback. “I was proud to work with my colleagues to ensure that funding was included for crucial defense projects in Kansas.”
So how to explain these votes?
They were part of a Republican strategy to delay a vote on the Defense bill in hopes of prolonging debate over the Democratic health care reform, which they oppose. The 33 votes against the motion to end debate on the Defense bill came from Republicans; the 63 “yes” votes included three Republicans.
The New York Times reported that when Brownback was asked if he would vote for the defense bill, Brownback replied, “No. I don’t want health care.”
In addition, Brownback spokesman Brian Hart said that Brownback also had trouble with what he said were non-defense spending items in the bill. Hart said once Brownback voiced his objections, and those items weren’t removed, he voted for the final bill “for the troops.”
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, however called attempts to stall the Defense bill “political gamesmanship at its worst.”