The House agreed to a $650 million cut from Pakistan military aid Wednesday night as Republicans sought to tamp down demands for still deeper reductions because of conservative anger at the Islamabad government.
Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) first came to the floor demanding a $1.3 billion cut and initially won the endorsement of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who was managing the defense bill on the floor. But ultimately a cut of $650 million was settled upon with the intention of reducing Pakistanís funds by half.
Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, appeared to agree to the compromise, since it was approved by a voice vote. And the end result is to conform with prior cuts agreed to this spring as part of a defense authorization bill.
Nonetheless, the fresh cut follows on Secretary of State Hillary Clintonís recent efforts to bridge the gap with Pakistan. And the combination of Poeís inflammatory rhetoric and Youngís cheerful endorsement was not a reassuring for the Obama administration as it tries to rebuild relations.
ìIt is time for a new strategy with Pakistan,î said Poe, who described Pakistan as a ìBenedict Arnoldî nation. ìMore money is not going to solve the problem. Ö Pakistan is playing America.î
The action came as the House took up the underlying bill, a $608.2 billion defense appropriations measure for the coming year, including $88.2 billion in emergency funds for overseas contingency operations, chiefly in the Afghanistan and Pakistan theater.
These so-called OCO funds are most vulnerable to cuts. And in addition to the $650 million for Pakistan, the House voted 228-191 to separately take $175 million from an infrastructure funds to assist Afghanistan.
At the same time, there appears to be no support yet for a dramatic shift in military funding. And a proposal to cut $21 billion from OCO in the name of expediting a U.S. withdrawal failed 312-107.