In reports on the vice presidential debate, CBSNews.com, MSNBC.com, and FactCheck.org all falsely claimed that Sen. Joe Biden's statement that Sen. John McCain "voted against funding the troops" in a 2007 appropriations bill was wrong. In fact, while McCain did not vote on a later version of the appropriations bill, he voted against the measure on March 29, 2007, and said at the time that he was opposing it, in part, because it "would establish a timeline" for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
Following the October 2 vice presidential debate, several media outlets have falsely claimed that Sen. Joe Biden was wrong when he said during the debate that Sen. John McCain "voted against funding the troops" in a 2007 appropriations bill. Biden said: "John McCain voted against funding the troops because an amendment he voted for -- voted against had a timeline in it to drawdown American troops. And John said, 'I'm not going to fund the troops if in fact there is a timeline.' " In an October 2 article, CBSNews.com wrote of Biden's comments: "This is wrong. The 2007 troop appropriation amendment first had a withdrawal timetable. McCain urged the President to veto that amendment -- and Bush did, and most Republicans voted against the amendment -- but McCain missed the actual vote." Similarly, in an October 2 post on MSNBC.com's First Read, NBC News' Carrie Dann and Mark Murray reported: "McCain OPPOSED -- but did not vote on -- a Senate measure with troop funding because it contained a timetable for withdrawal. Biden said McCain 'voted' against it" [emphasis in original]. And in an October 3 article, FactCheck.org also claimed: "Biden is simply wrong to say that McCain voted against that bill; he was absent and didn't vote at all. McCain did oppose the bill, and he urged President Bush to veto it." In fact, Biden's statement was correct: While McCain did not vote on a later version of the appropriations bill, he voted against the measure on March 29, 2007, and said at the time that he was opposing it, in part, because it "would establish a timeline" for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
As Media Matters for America has documented, on March 29, 2007, McCain voted against H.R. 1591, an emergency spending bill that would have funded the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and would have provided more than $1 billion in additional funds to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Senate passed H.R. 1591 by a margin of 51-47. Once the bill's conference report was agreed to by the House, the Senate again passed the measure on April 26, 2007, by a vote of 51-46, but McCain did not vote on that version of the bill. By contrast, Sen. Barack Obama and Biden voted for the bill on both occasions. President Bush vetoed the bill, citing its provision for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
In a March 29, 2007, statement about the appropriations bill, McCain said:
Additionally, this bill would establish a timeline for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions there. Such a mandate would have grave consequences for the future of Iraq, the stability of the Middle East and the security of Americans at home and abroad. For these reasons, I do not support this bill.