A “short leash” Iraq funding bill could come to a vote in the House as early as tomorrow. Karen DeYoung and Jonathan Weisman report for the Washington Post:
A House Democratic proposal introduced yesterday that would give President Bush half of the money he has requested for the war effort, with a vote in July on whether to approve the rest, hinges on progress in meeting political benchmarks that Iraq has thus far found difficult to achieve. …
…The plan would make about $43 billion of the administration’s requested $95.5 billion immediately available to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, train troops from both nations and pay for other military needs. Congress’s approval of the rest, intended to last through September, would await Iraqi passage of restructuring laws, or Bush’s ability to prove that significant progress had been made. The July vote would mark the first time a mandatory funding cutoff would come before Congress.
The article doesn’t hold out much hope that Senate Dems will go along with this, but the Post has been wrong before.
Today the President let it be known that he would veto the new House bill, too even though it makes considerable money immediately available to him with no strings attached. From the Washington Post:
President Bush would veto the new Iraq spending bill being developed by House Democrats because it includes unacceptable language restricting funding, White House press secretary Tony Snow said Wednesday morning.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Snow said of the bill: “There are restrictions on funding and there are also some of the spending items that were mentioned in the first veto message that are still in the bill.”
Those “spending items” include provision for equipping state National Guard at pre-Iraq War levels. Note that the House bill does not include a timetable or any restrictions on the U.S. military; the demands it makes are specific and apply to the Iraqi government.
The BooMan says,
I don’t think he can hold his caucus together on this veto. I’m not saying the GOP would override his veto, but there will be a lot more defections.
And that’s the point. Over the past several days I’ve argued several times (most recently here) that a bill-by-bill, vote-by-vote process that peels congressional Republicans away from Bush is the only chance we’ve got to end the war before 2009. The point is to render him so isolated and unsupported he’ll have to either comply or leave office. I think this “short leash” approach has a shot of picking up substantial Republican support, because I think Republicans who face re-election next year are becoming increasingly frantic that the war will cost them their seats. Even if this bill doesn’t draw a veto-proof majority, the next one might, or the one after that. There are a number of Iraq War votes to come before Congress before the end of the year.
Note that the public overwhelmingly disapproved of Bush’s veto of the last bill.
Meanwhile, Jonathan E. Kaplan and Elana Schor write at The Hill:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is threatening to take President Bush to court if he issues a signing statement as a way of sidestepping a carefully crafted compromise Iraq war spending bill.
Pelosi recently told a group of liberal bloggers, â€œWe can take the president to courtâ€ if he issues a signing statement, according to Kid Oakland, a blogger who covered Pelosiâ€™s remarks for the liberal website dailykos.com.
â€œThe president has made excessive use of signing statements and Congress is considering ways to respond to this executive-branch overreaching,â€ a spokesman for Pelosi, Nadeam Elshami, said. â€œWhether through the oversight or appropriations process or by enacting new legislation, the Democratic Congress will challenge the presidentâ€™s non-enforcement of the laws.â€
I say again that Bush will accept no constraints whatsoever, no matter how mild and reasonable, no matter what public opinion says. The question is, can he keep this game up for 20 more months?