The Senate Today

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Congress, Iraq War

The Senate vote on the Iraq spending bill is scheduled for 12:45 pm EST. I’ll post the result as soon as there is one.

Update 12:57:
The roll call just started.

Update: Adopted 51-46.

Another update: Bob Geiger says,

As expected, the vote was almost straight down party lines… Hagel and Smith did the right thing and voted with 48 Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont to bring the troops home. No Democrats voted with the Republicans who, of course, had Joe Lieberman (WHOCARES-CT) on their side, with Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) missing the vote.

Gee, it’s almost as if the gutless McCain doesn’t want to be on the record about this or something — go figure!

Also, I understand the Dems plan to tie Bush’s veto to the 4th anniversary of Mission Accomplished day. Heh.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Publicus  •  Apr 26, 2007 @2:07 pm

    Bush will veto. So what.

    Here’s the critical thing:

    Congress must NOT send another funding bill. End of war. Period.

  2. merciless  •  Apr 26, 2007 @2:29 pm

    Publicus, you’re right that Bush will veto while jumping up and down and holding his breath until he turns blue, and America will yawn and change the channel.

    What interests me is the next stage. I’m trying hard to keep up with things, and it seems to me like Pelosi and Reid have been pretty closed-mouth about the next move (other than, of course, telling Bush that they’re waiting in the tall grass for him).

    This could be good.

  3. maha  •  Apr 26, 2007 @3:29 pm

    I disagree with Publicus that the next step must be a funding cutoff. I think not, for reasons Bob Geiger explains here. Nothing Congress passes will be enacted until there’s a veto-proof majority, and we’re a long way away from that yet. The immediate goals are to beat Bush into the ground in the public relations war and persuade at least some Republicans that their political careers depend on coming over to our side.

    Even though there is overwhelming support for ending the war, there is not (yet) overwhelming support for an immediate withdrawal. I wouldn’t take a funding cutoff off the table for the future, but I think the immediate goals are these:

    1. The first message that must be pounded into the heads of the American people is that Dems are for winding up “the mission” and bringing the troops home, and Republicans are for leaving the troops in Iraq forever and ever amen. Making the issue about funding cutoffs just muddies that message.

    2. The second message must be about making Bush accountable for his own damn war, and I think the benchmarks and reporting requirements written into today’s bill are at least as important as the timetable. Maybe more important. Congress has got to bring Bush to heel, in other words.

    I’d like to see Congress adopt Jack Murtha’s month-to-month funding proposal while they continue to confront Bush and force him to veto one bill after another until there’s a veto-proof majority.

  4. Publicus  •  Apr 26, 2007 @3:49 pm

    maha —

    I understand and sympathize with your point; politically, it’s more of a winner forcing Bush to take responsibility.

    But I care more about the people dying there than I do about the political consequences. And mechanically, refusing to fund the war is absolutely simple and unstoppable…if the Democrats really want to end the war. I don’t think it’s right for them to take their time, and wait for the right moment. Too many have died already. And too many more will die, if the war is allowed to continue.

  5. maha  •  Apr 26, 2007 @4:36 pm

    But I care more about the people dying there than I do about the political consequences.

    Unfortunately, there’s no way a funding cutoff could be enacted right now. If it could I’d say go for it, but in reality putting such a bill up for a vote would be an empty gesture, and I have no use for empty gestures. We’re making incremental progress now, and I say if we’re serious about ending the war that’s our only course at the moment.

  6. moonbat  •  Apr 26, 2007 @4:47 pm

    I like the idea of Murtha’s month-to-month funding, and I’d like to see the Dems start makng noise about how the war has been funded outside the normal budget process, and why this is bad.

    Now that they’ve got their ducks in place regarding time tables and performance metrics, they can expand the rhetorical attack to this new terrain.

    Very interesting game of chicken the executive and legislative branches are now playing.

  7. Publicus  •  Apr 26, 2007 @5:11 pm

    “Unfortunately, there’s no way a funding cutoff could be enacted right now. If it could I’d say go for it, but in reality putting such a bill up for a vote would be an empty gesture, and I have no use for empty gestures.”

    There IS a way. The Democrats don’t need put up a bill for a vote. They need to NOT put up a bill. In the Constitution, Congress is in charge of funding things…including military action. They can approved funding for a maximum of 2 years at a time. If the Democrats chose NOT to send up a bill, Bush can’t do a thing about it. He’s got no money to continue the war. It would end the war.

    Forget incremental progress. We don’t need to win any vote. We don’t need to override any vetoes. The Democrats can end the war UNILATERALLY. That’s what we elected this Democratic Congress to do…not to play ball with Bush while more of our soldiers die.

    I’m not talking about empty gestures. I’m talking about ending the war. Yeah, if Bush wants to keep it up, he can try. He can probably keep the killing up through June. That’s on his conscience. But if the Democrats give him money to keep our soldiers on in the middle of this senseless carnage…well, then that would be on THEIR conscience.

  8. maha  •  Apr 26, 2007 @5:14 pm

    Publicus — oh no, won’t happen, and I wouldn’t support it, either. Barbara Lee’s bill was one thing; I would have been all for that if it could have gotten the votes. But just not sending money really would throw military operations into chaos and could cost lives of both troops and civilian contractors. And it would be political suicide for the Dems.

  9. Publicus  •  Apr 26, 2007 @5:29 pm

    “But just not sending money really would throw military operations into chaos and could cost lives of both troops and civilian contractors.”

    No. They could use the remaining money to bring the troops home. And, if the withdrawal was well underway, then the Dems could provide more money at THAT time to complete it.

    I’m not convinced that it would be political suicide, either. One poll showed a slight majority of Americans favoring cutting off funds to end the war. In any case, political suicide would be more honorable than continuing to send our troops into ACTUAL suicide.

  10. Publicus  •  Apr 26, 2007 @5:32 pm

    Correction: a majority favored cutting off funds for the surge.

  11. Publicus  •  Apr 26, 2007 @5:35 pm

    Correcting my correction: majority also favors completely defunding the war, not just the surge.

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003569947

    “Then asked if congress should stick to its guns if Bush vetoes the bill, and continue to deny funds unless withdrawal is accepted, 45% support this idea, while 43% back the president.”

  12. Swami  •  Apr 26, 2007 @5:57 pm

    Publicus … I can’t cite a source or account for accuracy, but I recall hearing that Bush has authority to appropriate whatever funds are needed to prevent our military from being stuck in the field in case of such a situation that could possibly exist in a showdown with Congress over funding. Of course Bush would have to curtail some of his military spending in Iraq to the essentials of safety, but what’s considered an imperative for the safety of our troops would up for debate. And I wouldn’t put it past Bush to push the envelope of his war president/commander-in-chief./decider status to protect his failed war.

  13. Jean L'homme  •  Apr 26, 2007 @6:14 pm

    Another correction. When we still only have 56% of the public favoring a pullout, we don’t have enought to overide the Presidents veto. When we still have our men over there, as I have one, we must not turn off the spigot. Bad enough they never were outfitted as well as the mercenaries of Blackwater, but that we should deprive them of even more. is unpardonable.

    As one who is working toward a greater democrat presence in the next election results, this would not be the way to win friends and influence others.

  14. Publicus  •  Apr 26, 2007 @6:49 pm

    Jean L’homme —

    You are right; we don’t have enough votes to overcome a veto. If we wait for that, the war will go on for many more years…

    “Bush has authority to appropriate whatever funds are needed to prevent our military from being stuck in the field in case of such a situation that could possibly exist in a showdown with Congress over funding.”

    Not under our Constitution. All funding MUST be appropriated by Congress. The President CAN use money already appropriated by Congress to the military for other purposes, and use those funds in Iraq. But I don’t think that would allow him to keep going on an open-ended war.

    I certainly wouldn’t expect Bush’s withdrawal to be any more competent than his handling of the war or Katrina…but unfortunately we have to live with the president we have for now. An incompetent withdrawal is better than a senseless and incompetent war.

    One more point: There’s enough funding NOW to last through June. If the President choses to continue fighting without enough funds instead of withdrawing, then HE—not Congress—will be endangering our troops.

  15. sniflheim  •  Apr 26, 2007 @6:54 pm

    [whisper noise] -ic, Jean, -ic.

  16. maha  •  Apr 26, 2007 @7:34 pm

    They could use the remaining money to bring the troops home.

    Withdrawals are dicey and could cost a lot more than regular operations, believe it or not. It takes people with a lot of smarts and experience to pull them off without significant losses, especially on short notice. But the Bushies would be in charge, so it’s going to be a mess. Just cutting off funds cold turkey would, I repeat, throw the military into chaos and could backfire, big time. Only 45 percent in favor? Not nearly strong enough; a lot of that could flip, fast. And people would blame Dems in Congress. Trust me, Congress won’t go for this. Will not happen. No way, no how.

    Any other ideas?

  17. Swami  •  Apr 26, 2007 @8:29 pm

    Any other ideas?

    Well, I’ve always wondered why Bush just doesn’t sign the supplement and claim that the Democrats sold America out. He’d have almost two years to secure a Victory in Iraq and showcase his greatness…If that fails( as it will) then he can claim for his legacy that America was not worthy of his greatness and superior leadership. To me, the Democractic Congress is giving him the perfect out by taking responsibility for withdrawing from Iraq. A smart man would see failure coming over the horizon and latch on the a good deal in avoidance when it presents itself.

    Oh.and don’t forget…”over a trillion dollars if it ended today”…what did we buy for our trillion?.. a lot of headstones!

  18. Publicus  •  Apr 26, 2007 @9:41 pm

    “Withdrawals are dicey and could cost a lot more than regular operations, believe it or not.”

    I agree. And the Democrats should continue to offer funds for withdrawal…and ONLY withdrawal. If Bush screws up the withdrawal (as he screwed up the war and pretty much everything else), that just the way he is. Maybe the Democrats will get blamed. But you can’t do everything based on trying to avoid the blame. You have to do the RIGHT thing.

    Look, if the best the Dems can do is apply slow pressure over time, we’ll have to live with that. But remember: some of our soldiers will die with that.

  19. Ian  •  Apr 27, 2007 @11:07 am

    Problem with your strategy, Publicus, is it depends on the president being sane and responsible for its success. Sure, the dems just don’t send a bill up, no funding gets aproved, there’s no money to continue the war … the only sane and responsible thing to do is start a withdrawl, particularly if the dems are publicly saying they will approve funds if and only if a withdrawl begins.

    When was the last time bush was sane and responsible? Has that EVER happened?

    Likelyhood is greatest he would just keep on as if nothing happened, trusting congress will blink first. If congress does, it’s a huge win for the president. If congress does not, then troops will start runni9ng out of food, fuel, and ammo, and the presiden will either use that as justification for a little extra-judicial funding, or he’ll just let ’em die, trusting that reporters will cover the deaths sufficiently to truly horrify the american public.

    Of course, IF that happened, a well informed and rational populace would blame bush for the plight of the troops, no one else.

    When was the last time our public was well informed and rational?

    -me



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