House Considers Short Leash

Carl Hulse, New York Times:

House Democrats may push ahead this week with a new war spending bill that would provide money for combat operations through midsummer, with the rest of the funds sought by President Bush withheld until commanders in Iraq provide a report on conditions there.

Senior Democratic officials say the proposal, which is still being put together and could reach a floor vote by the week’s end, is an attempt to provide the Pentagon with the money it needs while keeping pressure on Mr. Bush over his conduct of the war.

The bill is a collaboration of David Obey and Jack Murtha.

Related: See TPM Muckraker about Bush’s September deadline.

Update: See Dan Froomkin, “Four More Months.”

2 thoughts on “House Considers Short Leash

  1. The senate might need pressure. If the house can pass something strong, it will be hard for the senate not to go along, lest they be disunited.

  2. I’ve been posting this idea in various places because I’m interested in seeing feedback; what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages?

    What if, IN ADDITION TO whatever “short leash” stop-gap funding appropriation Congress approves, they attach a separate appropriation devoted to funding the safe withdrawal of troops. They’d have to take a guess at how much money would be required, but whatever the amount, it could be used only to bring the troops home, while ensuring their safety. Once that fund began to be used, troops would have to start coming home, and no new troops could be sent.

    I see this legislation as a response to the widespread misconception that cutting off funds for the war would somehow leave American troops at risk and without support in the deserts of Iraq.

    The point here is NOT to attach this “withdrawal only” condition to the emergency funds Congress would provide for ongoing operations in Iraq. Instead, they would be giving the president what he demands–supplemental funding (albeit in the short term) with no deadlines or strings attached. At the same time, though, they would ensure that a significant fund had been appropriated to bring the troops home safely, thus defusing the (already mistaken) accusation that Democrats who oppose the war don’t support the troops. The money to protect and repatriate our troops would already be available.

    The legislative disadvantage of this approach is that this bullet is no longer in the gun; the Congress can only pass this legislation once. I think the political advantage outweighs that, however; the Congress would be on record as unequivocally supporting the safety of troops as they withdraw. To trigger that withdrawal, Congress has only to refuse further funds at any time in the future. In addition, I believe opponents of the war will be negotiating from a position of greater strength in the public discourse. Among other things, the public’s awareness that this money, which could bring our troops safely home, is just SITTING there during the coming months could further energize and focus anti-war sentiment in the country–especially if it’s a large-enough sum (over, say, $100 billion).

    I doubt that President Bush would find it politically tenable to veto such legislation, especially if it was attached to the immediate supplemental funding for the war.

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