The Next Bill?

This is from The Politico, so take with a grain of salt, but I like it —

Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.) outlined a new plan for an Iraq funding bill in private meetings Thursday afternoon, congressional aides said.

The plan would split the now vetoed supplemental spending bill into two bills, one that would provide two months of funding for the Iraq War and another that would fund the agricultural programs contained in the earlier bill, aides said.

In addition to the two months of Iraq funding, the bill would provide a $10 billion cushion to allow the military flexibility. It would also require the president to report back to Congress by July 13 on the extent to which the Iraqi government had met certain benchmarks for progress.

The plan would “fence off” additional combat funds until Congress voted to “unfence” them. Such a vote would be held on July 24. A vote of the FY08 defense appropriations bill would be delayed until September, one aide said.

Benchmarks with real teeth. Interesting.

As I argued here, I think the smartest strategy right now could be to hit Bush with a bill that’s got real conditions in it, even if not timetables, that can attract a substantial number of Republican votes. A veto-proof majority would be ideal. Force Bush into a real confrontation with Congress, not just Democrats in Congress. Commander Guy would either be brought to heel, or else Congress would be forced to acknowledge and deal with the constitutional crisis they’ve been ignoring for some time.

Update: This guy’s got it:

One thing I like about these Democratic leaders is they’re very subtle and canny. We have to keep in mind, of course, that we’re dealing with a hostage situation here, and we have to protect our soldiers from this maniac.

Exactly. I see lots of bloggers think — naively, IMO — that a cutoff of funds would force Bush to withdraw troops. I have already explained why I think this is a foolish idea. Bush can move monies around for months to keep the war going, and if he’s as crazy as I think he is he’d see every U.S. soldier in Iraq starved or gunned down before he’d comply with a congressional mandate to bring them home. We’re dealing with a hostage situation here, and we have to protect our soldiers from this maniac.

12 thoughts on “The Next Bill?

  1. It’s a hairbrain idea…Bush would get all his money allocated and the Congress would be left to fight among themselves in order to effect a stop payment. From a purely contracting point of view it’s not a wise never put your money out front before performance.

    I guess we should ask General Petraeus what the Congress should do. He seems to be the only one capable of knowing what we should do about Iraq. Right?

  2. Swami — you’re not seeing the bigger picture. Once again, as I argued yesterday, there is no way that Congress can force Bush to stop the war. They have the constitutional authority to do so, but the Creature does not respect that authority and will not comply. Trying to pass a bill that will force Bush to end the war is pointless, because he’s not going to do it, no matter what.

    So what is the point? The point is to force Republicans in Congress to take sides for or against Bush’s war.

    Ideally, if enough Republicans in Congress break with Bush, we have a real shot at removing the Creature and the Dick from office. That’s the only way the troops will be withdrawn before 2009. It’s also the right thing to do to protect the integrity of the Constitution.

    If that can’t be accomplished, we at least are setting up a whole lot of Republicans to get pounded into the ground in the 2008 elections. I can hear the ad voiceover now — Senator X voted to continue the war X number of times.

  3. maha…I am seeing a bigger picture, just different. My picture is more aligned with your comment about beating a psychopath at their own game. Bush is playing games where he controls the advantage and is more adept than Congress. I see him in terms of child psychology where attempts to bring him under control will only result in frustration and confusion unless a firm hand of authority is applied.Congress has the power to bring him to bay if only they exercise their proper authority by refusing to continue in his game playing. He has failed in Iraq, but won’t acknowledge his failure, and Congress is enabling him by trying to tip-toe around the obvious and present palatable schemes in a game that Bush controls.

    I know it appears naive and mindless to suggest toughness when dialog and reasonableness seem the path to pursue, but Bush is using both of those elements as barriers to protect his failures. He has to be confronted and broken and that won’t happen until Congress stands against him. It doesn’t need to be a Congress united…just enough to stop Bush’s progression forward.

    I do understand your point and reasoning ,Maha, But to my mind an encapsulation of what I trying to convey in a round about way, would be..You don’t negotiate with terrorist.. and the same concept would apply to dealing with Bush. Only direct confrontation will bring result.

  4. I’m waiting to see where Feingold goes on this. I lean towards no more funding or funding only to match the Petreus timetable.

    I also think ‘pork’ like proper troop training, equipment and inter-tour rest periods, veteran’s benefits and Katrina relief should remain in the bill.

  5. I agree w/ MaHa to the point of trying to split enuf Repubs off of the Bush side so it appears it is The Whole Congress v. Bush.

  6. Congress has the power to bring him to bay if only they exercise their proper authority by refusing to continue in his game playing.

    Congress does have that power, but only if a veto-proof majority chooses to exercise that power. The current effort is not about negotiating with Bush, but negotiating with Republicans in Congress, in the hopes that we’ll have a veto-proof majority by the end of summer.

    Without a veto-proof majority, Congress can do nothing.

  7. How about (since there really is plenty of time before the current money runs out): more stringent conditions presented–sure to be vetoed–and then later a 1-2 month clean bill? If W doesn’t like that, congress should authorize a bake sale.

    I think the pressure ought to be kept up till the point where the polls start saying it’s far enough.

    That Paul Krugman column with the ‘military held hostage’ frame a couple weeks back seemed to be picked up enthusiastically, then was dropped, to my disappointment. Glad to see it re-emerge.

  8. Congress does have that power, but only if a veto-proof majority chooses to exercise that power.

    Maybe I’m dreaming, but as I see it Congress( the Democratic portion) has the power to change the entire dynamic. Not by what they can accomplish through a veto proof majority, but what they can achieve by preventing the passage of any bill that is contrary to their will. They have power at their disposal if they choose to utilize it to their advantage. By applying heat they can change the chemistry. Bush has purposely created an air of urgency and near desperation over the Iraq funding to rattle the Congress and force them into compliance with his will.
    If the members of Congress who want to stop Bush’s antics would turn his bullying tactics back on him by refusing to be cowered and hold fast to their obligations to the majority of the American people..I believe Bush and his Republican minions would fold, or at least fragment to the point where Bush’s stranglehold on power would collapse. I know nobody wants to look ugly by touching the sacred cow, our troops,but as long as Bush can use them as a buffer/hostage, that’s how long he will retain control.
    Again, just my armchair nobody living in obscurity analysis.. the closer it approaches critical mass, the more favorable it will be for those who want to bring the Iraq debacle to an end. Turn up the heat, you turn the political consequences for them comfy repubs.

    And God bless our troops… 🙂

  9. Not by what they can accomplish through a veto proof majority, but what they can achieve by preventing the passage of any bill that is contrary to their will.

    I’m skeptical that enough Dems would hold together to carry out that kind of grandstanding — you’d need darn near all of them — but let’s pretend they would. What do you think would happen next? Do you think the Republicans would frantically throw together a bill with out-of-Iraq conditions to keep money flowing to the troops? Or would they all show up on Faux Snooze to complain about obstructionist Democrats?

    I’d bet on the latter. I don’t think Bush would be compelled to bring the troops home even if he didn’t get his money, and I think Republicans would jump at the chance to turn the public debate against Democrats rather than against Bush.

    And troops would still die, possibly in larger numbers.

    Again, ultimately I don’t think Bush would end the war even if 100 percent of Congress ordered him to do it. I suspect the only way this game will end before January 2009 is if Bush is removed from office. But it will take a two-thirds vote of the Senate to do that, meaning we’d need the same 57 Republicans we need for a veto-proof majority.

    The safer (both for the Democrats and the troops) and smarter way to go is to slog it out bill by bill and vote by vote, forcing Republicans to take a firm stand for or against Bush and his war. I think enough of them will bail by the end of summer/early fall that we’ll have our veto-proof majority. Then if Bush defies the will of Congress, we’d be able to get some momentum toward impeachment.

  10. Unfortunately, time is not on our side. Nor is it on the side of the troops. If a soldier survives one deployment, good. But, the odds go down with each additional deployment. Those who have survived three deployments and are going on their fouth are literally going there on a wing and a prayer.

    I think maha’s idea is a great idea. I just think it is too time-consuming. The only way to save time is to get tough. W says he will meet with Congress and negotiate. Okay, Congress go do that. But, if he truly does not negotiate, then every one who attended should be on TV telling the American people that the commander guy is NOT negotiating, that he met with them in bad faith. Keep the sword swinging above his head, don’t give any thing except to show that you are willing to give up something for something given by the commander guy. That is negotiation.

  11. Unfortunately, time is not on our side.

    Disagree. Bush is only playing for time with his phony “surge”, and the clock is running out on him. His surge fails, and it will be amazing to watch the Congresional Republican turn on him (they have to win the next election, not Dumbya). As time goes on, more and more people, including Republicans, will be convinced that the war is a failure, and will do all they can to distance themselves from it. Truly the surge is Bush’s last chance.

    The Dems will have problems voting together as a united group, but this will be counterbalanced by 1) more people willing to throw in the towel on Iraq, and 2) the Dawning Realization that no Democrat wants to own this war, should they win the 2008 Presidential race. There will be enormous pressure to make sure the war hangs firmly around the Republicans’ necks.

    Of course, the troops are going to bear all of this, but at least the Dems are on the right side of history, and ultimately on the side of the troops.

  12. A veto-proof majority might not be a pipe dream. Remember, it’s all about the money.

    If resistant Senators and Representatives were quietly reminded that NO votes would entail pain, such as an embargo on their earmarks and a sudden inability to find funding for their lobbyists interesting projects, changes of heart might spontaneously occur.

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