Thursday, May 31, 2007

Family Leave Roundtable in Schenectady - Today!

Caring for my 82 year old father, my 39 year old disabled sister with mental health and developmental disabilities and caring for my FIVE children was taxing at best last year. Allowing my husband the ability to take time off of his NYS job last year after the birth of our fifth child without fear of the "Daddy Track" mentality that pervades our society would have been nice. Being able to continute to work in the traditional job market as a 40 year old woman wth five children and two additonal adult dependants would have been great. I sacrificed my teaching and university research career to stay home. I wish I had the choice!
- Anonymous in Albany
We're holding another living room roundtable for working parents today at 4:30, this one in Schenectady. Schenectady County Legislator Gary Hughes, his wife, Mayor Brian Stratton, and working parents from around the Capital Region will discuss the need for better state family leave policies so working parents can care for new kids and ailing relatives.

The Working Families Party supports the Working Families Time to Care Act, which would allow working families to take care of each other in times of need without risking financial hardship. Here's how it works:
  • The Working Families Time to Care Act would expand New York's existing Temporary Disability Insurance program to cover family needs like leave for either parent to care for a newborn child or a newly adopted child or a seriously-ill family member.
  • Workers would receive up to 12 weeks of benefits, funded through a modest increase of premiums paid within the existing TDI program.
Roundtable participants will encourage State Senator Hugh Farley to support the Working Families Time to Care Act.

You can show your support by signing our card with a message. Tell your state legislators it's time to give paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives.

Here's retired probation officer Regina Corby-Graham of Mastic speaking at last week's roundtable on Long Island:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What Kind Of Map Do You Want?

After last week's successful Affordable Housing Rally, New York Is Our Home launched a project to create a citywide map of rent hikes. Almost 100 people have taken the survey, which means there are enough responses to create the map. But first, you have the chance to weigh in on how you want to use the map.



Once you vote, ask your friends to take the survey.

Canvassing in Schenectady and Long Island for Family Leave

Good family values come with devoting time with children. Give mothers (and fathers) a break and allow them the time to spend with their children, especially during their developmental age. Don't break their hearts by making them choose between motherhood and career. Give them better options and benefits!!
- Manisha in New York state

Parents and other caretakers "deserve" that special paid time off to be with their newborns and other family members that have special needs.
- Elizabeth in Rosedale

Time to honor women in a more substantial way than token cards and flowers. Paid time off will allow more mothers a chance to get their babies off to a good start in life.
- Sheila in Ithaca

We need to provide better support to working parents!
- Julie in Hawthorne
The Working Families Party canvassed in Schenectady last week, talking to State Senator Hugh Farley's constituents about Family Leave Insurance. Now we're getting ready to head out to Long Island. And support from all over the state is still pouring in online. We'll take the letters we collect at the door and signatures we collect online with us as we lobby in Albany to tell the stories of working families who want parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults with ailing relatives to get paid time off.

Share your story today!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Family Leave Roundtable on Long Island

"We don't live in the 1950s anymore. With both parents working, we need policies in place that support couples when they decide to start a family or need to take time off to care for an ailing parent. That's what the Working Families Time to Care Act would do."
That's Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning (D-WFP), speaking at last Friday's Family Leave Roundtable in Mastic on Long Island. Working parents who have wrestled with the decision of how soon to return to their jobs after having a child discussed the need for better state family leave policies to care for new kids and ailing relatives.

Here's retired probation officer Regina Corby-Graham of Mastic speaking at the roundtable:



Ann Seifried of South Huntington, an economic development officer for manufacturing jobs, added,
"I shouldn't have to choose between my responsility to my job and my responsbility to my daughter. I have to do right by both, and our policies should reflect that."
More from Ann:



The Working Families Party supports the Working Families Time to Care Act, which would allow working families to take care of each other in times of need without risking financial hardship.

Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning (D-WFP) spoke about her own experiences and about the Working Families Time to Care Act:



Show your support by signing our card with a message. This is your chance to tell your state legislators it's time to give paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives.

Sign the card today!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Family Leave Roundtable on Long Island - Today!

We're holding a living room roundtable for working parents today at 2 in Mastic on Long Island to discuss the need for better state family leave policies so working parents can care for new kids and ailing relatives. Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning will moderate the discussion.

Speaking at the roundtable are working parents who have wrestled with the decision of how soon to return to their jobs after having a child and workers who have had to leave their jobs to care for their seriously ill parents. They'll tell their stories and discuss how the Working Families Time to Care Act would improve the lives of families facing similar choices about how to balance family and work.

Roundtable participants will encourage State Senator Trunzo to support the Working Families Time to Care Act.

The Working Families Party supports the Working Families Time to Care Act, which would allow working families to take care of each other in times of need without risking financial hardship. Here's how it works:
  • The Working Families Time to Care Act would expand New York's existing Temporary Disability Insurance program to cover family needs like leave for either parent to care for a newborn child or a newly adopted child or a seriously-ill family member.
  • Workers would receive up to 12 weeks of benefits, funded through a modest increase of premiums paid within the existing TDI program.
You can show your support by signing our card with a message. We've got over 1,500 signatures, but there's still room for your name. Tell your state legislators it's time to give paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives.

Sign the card today!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

7,000 Came

The Hands Around Stuy Town Rally yesterday was a big success. Here's some of the coverage:
Head over to NewYorkIsOurHome.org for more.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Today is the Day

The Affordable Housing Rally is finally here! We'll rally for affordable housing at Stuy Town this Wednesday, May 23rd, at 5pm. Turnout is so strong that we're expecting 7,000 people at the rally - 1,000 more than we thought a week ago!

Come meet us at
Avenue C between 16th and 17th Street
As part of the rally, we're asking for your help to launch a new project to map rent increases in New York City. Fill out our online monthly rent increase survey with your address and recent monthly rent history. The result will be an interactive map at NewYorkIsOurHome.org charting how individual rents have risen in recent years and will collectively show areas of dramatic rent increases.

Take the survey today!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

7,000 and Counting

The New York Is Our Home! coalition is closing in on 100 groups. And with all those groups working to turn people out for tomorrow's Hands Around Stuy Town Rally, there are now over 7,000 people coming.

Before you leave work, download the flyer for the rally (pdf), print it out, make copies, and then flyer your building tonight when you go home. This last minute push to remind your neighbors about the rally will help boost turnout.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, May 21, 2007

We're Helping Moms and Dads

My huband and I are expecting parents, and we feel that spending quality time with our babies is important. However, we are faced with the fact that we may not be able to afford to do this. As a father he only gets the time off that he has put in for vacation. He feels that if he is lucky he will have two weeks. When you use all the time you have saved up, what does that leave you will when your child is sick or for medical visits etc.

When you read about both parents recieving paid leave for the first year in counties overseas, for example Sweden it makes you wonder where are prioties are here in the United States.
- Mellissa in New York state

My daughter benefitted immensely from having my wife home for the first few months of her life. It took a real toll on our finances, however. This bill is a good investment in the future for all of our kids.
- David in New York state

As a mother of 4 children and at times it was very hard to care for the children while I had to go to work. It would have been nice to spend some time with my children in their formative years.
- Carol in New York state

As a mother of 3 who got no paid time off after the births of my children, I appreciate the importance of this. Let's make this the law of the land.
- Debra in Brooklyn
Parents are calling out for Family Leave Insurance. We're working to help them.

Last week, WFP canvassers were knocking on doors in Queens and Brooklyn. They're talking to constituents of New York State Senators Frank Padavan, Serph Maltese and Marty Golden and collecting letters in support of Family Leave Insurance to send the senators. We'll be knocking on doors and talking to voters until New Yorkers can take paid time off to care for their newborn children (or newly adopted children) and their ailing relatives.

Show your support and share your story!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Next Week We Rally

Next week, you will be able to meet 6,000 other New Yorkers who care about affordable housing and join together to do something about it. Wednesday, May 23rd, is the day 6,000 of us join Hands Around Stuy Town.

RSVP today!

We're expecting the attention and excitement of the rally will bring new people to the New York Is Our Home web site to find out more. So we're planning now for ways to get all those people involved. It can be serious or it can be fun, but it needs to send the message that New York Is Our Home!

Here are a couple of our ideas. Vote for which one you like best, or post your own idea in the comments.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reasons People Support Family Leave Insurance

A government which claims to be "family friendly" should back that claim up with policies which allow families to survive in this challenging economy.
- Susan in New York state

It's time. Time to realize that working individuals also have the job of raising families and caring for elders. Give them the time to do it.
- Ann in Congers

New York should be a leader of the nation in its concern for the future of families.
- Susan in New York City

Supporting families creates better workers. So do the right thing and give New York families a break!
- Judith in Saugerties

Building strong family ties from the beginning of life leads to a stronger society as a whole. We all know this. Can our laws and policies please begin to reflect what we inherently know to be human?
- Leslie in New York City

More than sentiment, parents and adult children need public support to be genuinely there for the children and parents in thier care.
- Harriet in New York City
These are just a few of the reasons people have for supporting Family Leave Insurance. Read more reasons here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

What's your reason?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

One of Only Five Countries In The World

Europe is so far ahead of the US when it comes to taking care of families: day care, health insurance, family leave or compassionate leave for those with seriously ill family members. Let's join the 'developed countries' at last.
- Barbara in New York City

This is already a policy in most of Europe and even some "third world" countries. It's time for the U.S. to catch up on its agenda for women's rights.
- Margaret in New York City

It's time to join the rest of W. Europe and afford families much needed time together without sacrificing their jobs.
- Bernadette in New York City

It is time to follow the lead of the rest of the industrialized world.
- Timothy in Saugerties
A lot of people know that Family Leave Insurance is common in Europe, where it works to make businesses more family friendly and effective.

But it's not well known that the U.S. is one of only five countries in the world that doesn't offer Family Leave Insurance. From The 2007 Work, Family, and Equity Index: How Does the U.S. Measure Up? by Dr. Jody Heymann, Institute for Health and Social Policy Director:
Out of 173 countries studied, 168 guarantee paid maternal leave, with 98 of these countries offering 14 or more weeks of paid leave. The U.S. provides no paid leave for mothers. Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea are the only other countries studied that do not guarantee leave with income to mothers.

Sixty-five countries grant fathers either paid paternity leave or paid parental leave, with 31 of these countries offering 14 or more weeks of paid leave. The U.S. guarantees fathers neither paid paternity nor paid parental leave.
This is a national disgrace. But it's starting to change. California and Washington state both have Family Leave Insurance. And we're going to pass it here in New York.

Sign the card and make New York a world leader.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How Will You Care For Your Parents?

As a grandparent of babies and a caregiver to my elderly mother, I am in the middle of the family crunch. I am the one who gives the help and does the paperwork as well as earns the money. Legislators must first consider working families otherwise the economy takes a dive.
- Barbara in Mount Kisco

As a person caring for a parent with Alzheimer's, I know how conflicting it can be to have to choose between work and the immediate needs of a family member.
- Dennis in Syracuse

My partner and I could have really used paid time off to care for our son when he was born. Now that both sets of our parents are in poor health, we could use paid time off to care for them while balancing parenting responsibilities.
- Stuart in the Bronx

It's time to make family values mean something. We need to be able to take care of each other.
- Gail in Slingerlands
People usually think of Family Leave Insurance as a policy that helps new parents care for their children, and it does. But it also helps working families care for ailing parents. What do you say to someone being forced to choose between caring for a parent with Alzheimer's and working?

No one should have to make that choice. We believe in a society where working families take care of each other. We believe in a society where adult children can care for their parents.

We are strongest when we stand together and share benefits and responsibilities.

Stand with us for Family Leave Insurance - sign the card today!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Income Inequality, Recommended Reading for May 2007

Over the weekend I found two good posts on income inequality: One from Amy Traub at DMI on progressive taxes and the other from Nancy Scola at MyDD on excessive executive pay. Give 'em both a read.

Dads Want Family Leave Insurance

Having a child is a life changing event filled with Joy and stress. Being new to fatherhood, I can attest that you need time to bond with you new baby. It is essential for the development of the parent and the child.
- Frank in Yonkers

My brother and his wife shouldn't have to choose between taking care of their premature baby and paying their bills. Support real family values, support family leave insurance.
- Anonymous in Brooklyn

A 'must have' for so many people (I'm one) struggling to do the right thing by their children - soc sec and taxpayers of the future!
- Michael in New York City

Anyone who claims to be "pro-life" or "pro-family-values" should be first to sign on to this initiative! Say "Yes" to Working Families.
- Robert in Liverpool
Our Mother's Day card calling for paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives has been a big success - over 800 people have signed the card.

But Family Leave Insurance doesn't just help moms; dads benefit too. And the stories above show that dads want Family Leave Insurance.

Are you a dad or mom who wants to take time off when your new child arrives? Worried about how you'll care for an ailing parent? Want to show your support?

Sign the card - let's bring family leave insurance to New York!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hands Around Stuy Town : 12 Days To Go

We're now less than two weeks away from the Hands Around Stuy Town Affordable Housing Rally.

Momentum is building for the rally. Borough Meetings in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan were high energy and well attended.

May 23rd will be even bigger. Over 80 groups are on the phones calling their members to bring 6,000 people to the rally. And 70 people have RSVPed online.

We're expecting the attention and excitement of the rally to send a wave of people to the web site, and we're looking for ways to get those people involved. It can be serious or it can be fun, but it needs to send the message that New York Is Our Home!

Here are a couple of our ideas. Vote for which one you like best, or post your own idea in the comments.

Moms Want Family Leave Insurance

As the breadwinner in my family (my husband lost his job last year) and the mother of a 1-1/2 year old with another on its way I am not in a position to forfeit 1, 2 or 3 months worth of pay. And going back to work sooner than 12 weeks is cruel and unhealthy to both the mother and the child. It is simply wrong that the U.S. does not provide the same benefits other developed countries do. And shocking.
- Lauren in New York City

As the mother of a 2 year old who was premature, I cannot stress how helpful paid time off would have been in our situation. It's time that NY demonstrates how it values families by paying leave!
- Jeanette in Blasdell

I had to purchase expensive disability insurance to cover post-birth income. And that only lasts 6 weeks and amounted to a small portion of my salary. We need to do a better job as a nation in supporting new families; infancy is a critical time in a child's development.
- Christine in New York City

What's more important than our children. Show you're really pro-family and sign on.
- Melissa in Penfield
There's been an outpouring of support for our Mother's Day card calling for paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives. More on the policy here and here. Over 700 people have already signed the card, with more signing every day. The four stories above are just four of the many that people are sharing (you can read all the stories starting at the bottom of this page).

Sign the card and make your story heard today!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day is this weekend. And when it comes to Mother's Day, we here at the Working Families Party say it's better to give than to receive. We hope the legislators at the state capitol in Albany agree.

We're giving them a Mother's Day card with a message: It's time to give paid time off to parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives.

A teacher's aide in Queens should not have to face the choice of spending time with her newborn daughter or putting food on the table. A truck driver in Buffalo should not have to risk his family's economic security to take care of his father after a stroke.

Not in New York. Not anywhere.

But working families in New York face these choices every day. That's because the U.S. is one of only five countries in the world without a national policy allowing working families to take paid time off to care for newborn children and seriously ill relatives.

That's wrong, and we're going to do something about it.

We're working to expand an existing social insurance program - temporary disability insurance - to include family leave insurance. Family leave insurance would let parents of newborns (or newly adopted children) and adults who need time to care for ailing relatives take 12 weeks of paid time off. Working New Yorkers would be able to receive a portion of their wages to maintain their family's economic security and care for their family.

That's the message behind our Mother's Day card to legislators. We're asking everyone to sign the Mother's Day card, and we'll deliver it - and any message you want to send along with it - as we lobby in Albany.

Sign our Mother's Day card and send the message that you support family leave insurance.

And have a Happy Mother's Day!

House Vote Today on Iraq

The House plan to keep Bush on a short leash is dividing Congressional Republicans:
The White House acknowledged public frustration with the Iraq war but tried to play down Republican anxieties
. . .
The White House confirmed that Bush held an unannounced meeting this week with House Republican moderates who expressed deepening concerns about the war. Several participants described a remarkably blunt discussion in which lawmakers told the president the war was unsustainable without public support, and was having a corrosive effect on GOP political fortunes.

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow refused to discuss details of the meeting but said, "Of course there are frustrations."
Bush, however, still refuses to change course:
The White House threatened on Wednesday to veto a proposed House bill that would pay for the Iraq war only through July
. . .
The warnings came as Gates also told reporters that his evaluation of force levels in Iraq in September will not lead to a rapid troop withdrawal, and that at least some U.S. forces are likely to be in Iraq for a protracted period of time.
But House Democrats aren't backing down:

The bill is hotly contested by the White House, opposed by nearly all Republicans and unlikely to survive in the Senate. But House Democratic leaders say the measure shows they refuse to back down in challenging President Bush on a deeply unpopular and costly war.

"The president refuses to listen to the American people who want this war to end," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said.

We agree. But if House Democrats want to end the war, a better strategy is to pass a funding bill that uses the power of the purse to limit the use of funds to protecting our troops' safety and bringing them home. That's the solution favored by the Working Families Party and the American people.

Tell your U.S. Representative to do just that and bring them home.

Then vote on what you think will happen:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

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?

Friday, May 04, 2007

High Speed New York

There's a good discussion on Assemblyman Brodsky and Senator Leibell's Telecommunications Reform Act (A.3980B/S.5124) going on over at The Albany Project. This is a bill the Working Families Party supports. Here are two reasons why:
  1. Telecom companies are moving away from the copper wires that form our current communications infrastructure toward high speed fiber optic wires. If you've seen Verizon's ads for FIOS, that's what they're talking about. To switch from copper wire to fiber optic wire, that wire has to be laid out first and homes need to be wired to it.

    The emerging trend is that high income places are getting wired and the rest of us are getting left out. Are you living in a luxury condo? You get fiber optic cable. Are you a working family? No dice. Are you upstate? Forget about it. Brodsky's bill would change that and stimulate development of universal broadband.

  2. The transition from copper to fiber optics is opening up new business opportunities. That's drawing new companies like Vonage into the telecom business. These new entrants aren't regulated under the existing system and aren't held to the same service requirements. What does that mean in practice? No guarantee of 911 emergency phone service is one example.
If we want a 21st century economy - and the good jobs that come with it - we need a 21st century communications system. We're not there. The United States ranks 16th in the world in broadband penetration - and our rank is getting lower when it should be getting higher.

Universal high speed internet service is a cornerstone of 21st century communications. New York needs to be out front on this, and needs to take charge in managing this transition so that everyone is included in a high speed New York.

Head over to The Albany Project for more - and be sure to read the comments section too.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Save the Date, May 23rd Affordable Housing Rally

Always complaining about the cost of housing in New York? Do something about it. An unprecedented coalition including the Working Families Party, labor unions, and nearly every housing organization in New York City has united to form New York is Our Home.

We're launching a massive, grassroots campaign to break the logjam in Albany and protect our homes. And we're kicking things off with a rally and march at Stuy Town in Manhattan on May 23rd.

We're holding the rally at Stuy Town, but it's a rally for everyone in New York City. It's a rally about the threat to Starrett City. It's about the nearly 1.5 million existing affordable units we're at risk of losing. It's about what's happening to housing prices all over New York City and the rising price of housing that we're all struggling with.

Will New York City be taken over by luxury condos? New York Is Our Home believes in a New York City in which working families have just as much right to live as hedge fund managers. This is your chance to stand up and be counted.

Send the message that New York Is Our Home! RSVP today!
What: "Hands Around Stuy Town" Affordable Housing March and Rally.

Why: Because rent is out of control, and New York Is Our Home!

When: Wednesday, May 23rd, at 5pm sharp

Where: Stuyvesant Town between 14th and 23rd Street on 1st Avenue in Manhattan

Who: You and 6,000 other New Yorkers who care about affordable housing and are willing to stand up and be counted.

How: RSVP today!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mission, um, Accomplished?

Four years after Bush landed on an aircraft carrier to tell us that the mission in Iraq was accomplished, he's vetoed Congress' supplemental budget bill for Iraq.

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.

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.
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:
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.
. . .
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.
. . .
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.
What do you think will happen?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Iraq Supplemental: Veto Watch

Congress is close to passing the Iraq supplemental budget bill, which Bush will promptly veto. And then? From the Washington Post:
House Democrats are beginning to coalesce around a $19 billion bill -- enough to fund the war for about 60 days -- without any withdrawal dates, according to aides. The measure would include additional funds for military health care; new standards for resting, training and equipping troops before deployment; and prohibitions on torture and permanent bases in Iraq. Benchmarks would be included, but with no punishments for failing to meet them.

The idea would be to pass the measure quickly, as soon as early next week, to deprive Bush of the argument that Democrats are withholding needed funds from the troops. Then negotiations would begin immediately on yet another bill.
Congressional Democrats have the backing of the American public to end the war. They'd be in a better position now if they had taken the popular position from the start, held by the Working Families Party and many others, and used the power of the purse to limit the use of funds to protecting our troops' safety and bringing them home. Still, they're taking steps toward ending the war.

How do you think this plays out?