Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Supplemental Negotiations Continue

The House has taken the lead, and is proposing keeping Bush on a short leash:
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.
. . .
One of the private meetings was with members of the Out of Iraq Caucus, who seemed pleased with the proposal, aides said.
The Senate seems a little reluctant to follow suit:
While the House could narrowly pass the measure, it is unlikely to find similar backing in the Senate, where some leading Democrats say they want to fund the war through September.
. . .
Numerous other ideas are being floated in the Senate, most of which involve some combination of goals the Iraqi government must reach. The key impasse, however, is whether to require the withdrawal of U.S. troops if the benchmarks are not met.
Congressional Republicans are trying to have it both ways, sticking with Bush but saying one day they might admit things aren't working. Here's House Minority Leader John Boehner:
Boehner said Bush's troop increase deserves a chance and should be funded even if benchmarks for success are not met.
. . .
"We don't even have all of the 30,000 additional troops in Iraq yet, so we're supporting the president. We want this plan to have a chance of succeeding," Boehner said.

"Over the course of the next three to four months, we'll have some idea how well the plan's working. Early signs are indicating there is clearly some success on a number of fronts," he said.

But, he added, "By the time we get to September or October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B."

Thus far, Republicans have stood behind the president's increasingly unpopular war policies, including the troop increase and an open-ended war commitment.

Yet Boehner's comments were an acknowledgment of the concern expressed by some lawmakers in private that their support could further damage the party, which lost control of Congress in the November elections.
New York's Rep. Charles Rangel gets it right:
"It would be ridiculous to think that we're going to just drop this fight . . . This is not our fight. This is the American people's fight. They asked us to send a message to the president . . . We've got to have some restrictions on the money."
What do you think will happen?

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