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By Alexander Lane September 2, 2008

If Obama voted against funding the troops, so did Lieberman

Joe Lieberman, the independent senator from Connecticut, alleged in his speech at the Republican National Convention that Sen. Barack Obama had voted to cut off funding for men and women in uniform.

Lieberman issued the attack almost as an aside as he praised Sen. John McCain's approach to the war in Iraq.

"When others were silent about the war in Iraq, John McCain had the guts and the judgment to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq," Lieberman said. "When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, which would've been a disaster for the U.S.A. — when colleagues like Barack Obama were voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the battlefield — John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion, advocate the surge, support the surge and because of that, today, America's troops are coming home — thousands of them — and they're coming home in honor!"

Republicans have made similar charges in the past, such as when McCain himself said on Aug. 11, 2008, that Obama "tried to prevent funding for the troops who carried out the surge." We evaluated that claim here .

To support the charge, the McCain campaign has cited Obama's vote of May 24, 2007, against an appropriations bill that included funding for the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (and passed, 80-14).

So was that a vote "to cut off funding for our American troops on the battlefield"?

Featured Fact-check

Not primarily.

Obama was fighting at the time for a requirement that President Bush begin to bring the troops home from Iraq. The bill in question did not include such a requirement, and that is why Obama voted against it. Obama said at the time that he wanted to fund the troops, he just didn't want to fund the particular military strategy that the bill would enable.

"We must fund our troops," Obama said at the time. "But we owe them something more. We owe them a clear, prudent plan to relieve them of the burden of policing someone else's civil war."

Clearly Obama wanted to provide funding for the troops — just not the president's military strategy.

If, by voting against funding for a strategy he opposed, Obama voted to "cut off funding for the troops," then so did almost every Republican in the Senate — and Lieberman himself — when they voted against a $124-billion appropriations bill on April 26, 2007, that would have funded operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but also required Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. (McCain missed the vote on that bill, which passed 51-46 and was subsequently vetoed by Bush.)

In a very narrow sense, yes, those votes were against military funding — a portion of which goes to equip and pay the troops. So there is a grain of truth to Lieberman's attack. But because it is so misleading — treating a strategic disagreement as a stand against men and women in uniform — we find it Barely True.

Editor's note: This statement was rated Barely True when it was published. On July 27, 2011, we changed the name for the rating to Mostly False.

Our Sources

MSNBC, Interview with Sen. Barack Obama by Keith Olbermann, Jan. 10, 2007

THOMAS, S. 574, A bill to express the sense of Congress on Iraq , accessed Aug. 12, 2008

Today Show, NBC News, interview with Sen. Barack Obama, July 18, 2007

E-mail exchange with McCain spokesman Joseph Pounder, Aug. 11 and 12, 2008, U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes, H.R. 2206 , May 24, 2007, Obama Votes to Demand Changed Course in Iraq , May 24, 2007, U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes, H.R. 1591 , April 26, 2007

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