Congressional Republicans are so far siding with Bush to uphold the veto. But they're not also starting to hedge their bets:
"There are some types of benchmarks that might well achieve bipartisan support and might actually even conceivably be helpful to the efforts in Iraq," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.Even as they win more public support, Congressional Democrats don't yet have the votes to override Bush's veto. So they're discussing what comes next:
But Republicans were reluctant to say whether they supported benchmarks with real consequences. Some said they would support tying benchmarks to foreign aid to Iraq totaling more than $5 billion but nothing that would tie the hands of military commanders.
"It depends on what the benchmarks are and what the consequences are," said Trent Lott of Mississippi, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.
Hoyer was reluctant to say exactly what the bill will look like, but said he anticipates a minimum-wage increase will be part of it. He also said the bill should fund combat through Sept. 30 as Bush has requested, casting doubt that Democratic leaders would adopt a proposal by Rep. John Murtha, R-Pa., to fund the war two or three months at a time.What do you think will happen?
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The party's most liberal members, especially in the House, say they will vote against money for continuing the war if there's no binding language on troop drawdowns. The bill Bush rejected would require the first U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later.
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Numerous possible compromises are being floated on Capitol Hill, all involving some combination of benchmarks. Some would require Bush to certify monthly that the Iraqi government is fully cooperating with U.S. efforts in several areas, such as giving troops the authority to pursue extremists. Others would require an Iraqi-run program to disarm militias and a plan to distribute oil revenues fairly among the various population groups.
The key impasse in Congress is whether to require redeployments of U.S. troops if the benchmarks are not met. Many Democrats insist on it, and many Republicans vow not to budge. It's far from clear whether Bush would accept such an approach.
Under one proposal being floated, unmet benchmarks would cause some U.S. troops to be removed from especially violent regions such as Baghdad. They would redeploy to places in Iraq where they presumably could fight terrorists but avoid the worst centers of Sunni-Shia conflict.
Still another possibility would change the bill that Bush vetoed only by allowing the president to waive the redeployment requirements under certain conditions
A new spending bill "has got to be tied to redeployment," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the House's fourth-ranking Democratic leader. Emanuel conceded, however, that Democrats have yet to figure out where they will find the votes.