The vitriol was the latest in a series of searing partisan bickering over global warming, federal funding and patriotism that have erupted since the fires broke out last weekend. As crews battled more than a dozen blazes from Ventura County to Mexico, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats linked the fires to global warming. Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara Boxer and presidential hopeful Chris Dodd, D-Conn., accused Iraq of sucking away National Guard resources that might have gone to firefighting. The California National Guard’s equipment is down 50 percent, Boxer noted at a hearing, “because they’re all in Iraq.” Both accusations infuriated Republicans. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-San Diego, called the National Guard contention “nuts” and noted in a television interview that only about 10 percent of the Guard is in Iraq or Afghanistan. And Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, said the global warming and Iraq war concerns are coming from “the `blame America first’ crowd in Washington.” The fires, Bilbray said, “are caused by winds that have been around for thousands of years.” Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, issued a statement excoriating Democrats for holding the vote on SCHIP. “The Democratic leadership is once again showing that they only care about scoring political points,” he said. Waxman, whose district includes Malibu, where an estimated 4,400 acres were scorched, said California Republicans could have flown home after Thursday’s vote or earlier in the week. “The day they chose to go out was calculated,” Waxman said. “The fires have been going on for a week, and I think they just chose today to go out there because they wanted to complain.” Pelosi, meanwhile, suggested that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – who supports expanding the health insurance bill – urged her to go forward with the vote. In a phone call to discuss the fires this week, Pelosi said, Schwarzenegger inquired, “How are we doing on SCHIP?” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.With seven GOP lawmakers in Southern California touring fire damage and helping evacuated constituents, Republicans asked Democrats to delay until next week votes on a revised but still-controversial bill expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Democrats refused. The Californians’ absence would not affect the final outcome, they contended, while also noting that the House conducted critical votes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina even though Louisiana and Mississippi lawmakers rushed to their home states. “We all understand how important it is for members to be home with their constituents. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t continue with the work of government,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The rebuff outraged Republicans. Many attacked the vote as a scheme to take advantage of GOP absences. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas accused Democrats of acting like “vultures circling above the burned-out homes of California families.” Republicans maneuvered three times to shut the House for the afternoon. Each attempt failed. Extension of the children’s health insurance bill ultimately passed, 265-142. CONGRESS: GOP says rivals took advantage of California Republican lawmakers’ trip to state. By Lisa Friedman STAFF WRITER WASHINGTON – The blazes in California this week sparked a political firestorm in Washington on Thursday as House Republicans tried to block a vote expanding children’s health insurance.