Hoyer: Votes on wartime supplemental by Friday

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday he expects the fiscal 2010 supplemental spending bill will move in the House "within the next couple of days -- certainly by Friday."

That is "more than optimism. That is my intent," Hoyer said during his weekly news conference.

He also said the $10 billion figure to avert teacher layoffs is settled. "It will be paid for," Hoyer added, but he did not elaborate.

In addition, economist Mark Zandi spoke to the Democratic Caucus Tuesday and said absent some additional aid to the states, they will shed jobs and raise taxes, which will be a drag on the economy, Hoyer said.

Hoyer noted there is very substantial concern about "what we're doing in Afghanistan in terms of success," as well as concerns such as those raised by Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., that nonmilitary funds are suspected of being stolen by high-ranking Afghan officials.

There are concerns, too, that top officials in President Hamid Karzai's government have repeatedly derailed corruption investigations of politically connected Afghans, Hoyer said.

Last week, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., along with other Democrats critical of the war sent President Obama a letter asking that he provide Congress with "a clear commitment and plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan" before the vote on the supplemental funding bill.

Hoyer insisted the House would move on the bill soon.

"We're going to consider funding for the troops, and we're going to do that in the next 72 hours.

Asked if the supplemental would be divided into at least two parts, with one devoted solely to U.S. military funding, Hoyer said: "That will probably be our procedure."

This strategy runs the risk that Republicans - who have been calling for a supplemental bill that does not include any funding not related to the wars - may not vote for the package out of a concern that their "yes" votes would enable more spending amid high debt and deficits.

"I would hope our Republican friends would support that which they support and oppose that which they oppose - as opposed to taking a walk or something on war funding," Hoyer said.

"They say they're for funding of the troops. My view is we're going to put that up ... as it came from the Senate," he said.

House Republican leaders have declined to discuss their strategy for dealing with the supplemental on the floor.

The rule for the supplemental is expected to include budget legislation that would deem the fiscal 2011 discretionary funding level and other fiscal provisions.

Republicans argue that the Democrats budget package is significantly less than a full five-year budget resolution and accuse the majority of abdicating a basic responsibility.

"The reality is that you can't deem a federal budget that you never passed," said House Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana.

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