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Posted by on Apr 25, 2007 in Politics, War | 17 comments

House Passes Iraq Funding With Withdrawal Timetable: Veto Certain

And now the stage is set for the continued quickening of end-game discussions about Iraq: defying President George Bush’s threat of a veto and Bush’s statements accusing Democrats of not supporting the troops, the House has passed a historic funding bill that will set a withdrawal timetable from Iraq. CNN:

President Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress lurched toward a veto showdown over Iraq on Wednesday, as the House passed legislation that would order troops to begin coming home by October 1.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 218-208. Nine Democrats voted against the bill and two Republicans voted for it.

Not an overwhelming majority and certainly not veto proof — but it is sufficient to shove the Democrats demand for a withdrawal timetable away from a political stance to a must-deal-with political demand. MORE:

President Bush has promised to veto any legislation that contains a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Republicans said setting a timetable on the war would hand a victory to terrorists.

This also sets the state for already piping-hot political rhetoric to heat up even more with some GOPers equating the measure with the Democrats being at the very least enablers of terrorists and Democrats (and many of the increasingly large number of independents that political polls show agree with the Democrats) accusing Republicans who use this argument as using an updated 21st century version of McCarthy-style definition and demonization.

“Setting a date and conveying it to the enemy and telegraphing to them verbatim that the war is lost is not the right posture for this government to take,” said Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Florida.

The House vote came as the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and other defense officials tried to convince lawmakers that a timetable would push Iraq into chaos. But Democrats said they were undeterred, guaranteeing a historic confrontation with Bush.

“For the first time, the president will have to be accountable for this war in Iraq,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said Tuesday. “And he does not want to face that reality.”

The $124.2 billion bill would fund, among other things, the war in Iraq but trigger the withdrawal of troops beginning this fall. It sets a non binding goal of completing the pullout by April 1, 2008.

Troops could remain in Iraq after the 2008 date but only for limited non-combat missions, including counterterrorism operations and training Iraqi forces.

The bill, already negotiated with Senate leaders, is expected to reach the president’s desk by early next week following a final Senate vote Thursday.

The New York Times:

“This bill is a statement that Congress will no longer fund the war as it exists today,� said Representative Louise Slaughter, the New York Democrat who is chairwoman of the Rules Committee, as she opened the debate.

Republicans accused Democrats of establishing a “date certain� for America’s defeat in Iraq. “There will be no greater event to empower radical Islam than our retreat and defeat from Iraq,� said Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, leader of a conservative wing of House Republicans.

The Senate is expected on Thursday to approve identical legislation that provides more than $95 billion for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. 30, with the money conditioned on the administration’s willingness to accept a timetable for withdrawal and new benchmarks to assess the progress of the Iraqi government.

Democratic leaders plan to send the bill to the White House next Monday — one day before the fourth anniversary of Mr. Bush’s May 1, 2003, speech aboard an aircraft carrier when he declared the end of major combat operations before a banner that said “Mission Accomplished.�

Expect that video clip to be played on some newscasts. But as the Times notes, BOTH sides are now gearing up for a longer-range battle:

With the outcome essentially preordained, advocacy groups on both sides of the issue were readying campaigns to try to shape public opinion for the unfolding of the showdown and beyond, when Congressional leaders will be forced to regroup and try again to approve financing for the troops.

Groups aligned with the Democrats plan to capitalize on the connection between the veto and the “mission accomplished� anniversary. Americans United for Change has produced a commercial to be broadcast on cable and public affairs programs that replays scenes of Mr. Bush on the carrier and says: “He was wrong then. And he’s wrong now. It’s the will of one nation versus the stubbornness of one man.�

Allies of the president are mobilizing as well. The conservative Web site was organizing an online “no surrender� petition, and urging visitors to the site to tell the Democratic Party’s “rogues’ gallery that we will not stand for their defeatism,� adding, “While they may lack courage, our troops do not and they deserve the resources needed to win this war.�

Outlook: polarization will continue to grow and expand.

Problem for the White House: Polls increasingly show that its “red-meat” arguments are appealing to the GOP base but are continuing to be dismissed by an increasingly large number of independent voters. More and more it appears as if going into 2008 it’ll be the remaining Republican base supporters versus the Democrats supported by a large chunk of independent voters — a coalition that could prove damaging for the GOP in the long run.

War outlook: Unless there is some massive turn around and the surge suddenly clicks in to transform the war theater, the war is on borrowed time and it’s virtually certain the next Democratic or Republican president in 2008 will either end it or quicken the march towards a U.S. exit.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • stevesh

    “But as the Times notes, BOTH sides are now gearing up for a longer-range battle…”

    Sigh. GodSpeed, Patreaus.

    DUBAI (Reuters) Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:14am ET – Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is orchestrating militants’ operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior commander of Afghan Islamist group Taliban said in remarks broadcast on Wednesday.

  • Elrod

    I love this quote: “There will be no greater event to empower radical Islam than our retreat and defeat from Iraq.” Sadly, Jeb Hensarling fails to realize that no event has empowered radical Islam more than our invasion of Iraq. Undoing that invasion won’t be easy, but it’s a necessary first step toward engaging Al Qaeda on theater that we can manage – like Afghanistan.

  • White Agent

    Joe- I am in perfect agreement with Elrod. Not only has this invasion/war made more jihadists that want to kill us, but it has our own allies looking at us with grave suspicion!

    We are going bankrupt with this war. We can “take” any part of the middle east we want, we just can’t control it after we do. It is much easier for anti-American powers in the region to create more insurgents than ever it is for us to add more troops. We simply do not have them. That is why McCain and the war republicans have absolutely no credibility with their “escalate the war” platform. Its just brain dead.

    It is much better to pull out, watch the animals butcher each other on TV, and wait till world opinion changes. We can always invade again. We do invasions well and if we do we just might have to world on our side.

  • Rudi

    The votes were almost completely along party lines. The Liberal Democrats without powerfull comittee seat voted against and Kucinich. Of the three anti-war Republicans (Gilchrest and Jones) voted for the resolution. Ron Paul voted with his party, but his vote was consistant with his philosiphy, he has many papers stating his points. The talking points on both sides are for the most point mindless drivel…

  • AustinRoth

    Kabuki theater, meant only to tee up the 2008 campaigns, and nothing else.

  • White Agent

    AustinRoth- Ya think so? Bush runs out of war money in July.

  • pacatrue

    It’s a little interesting that Bush isn’t just finding ways to sign the bill and then ignore it. There are provisions for troops staying to train Iraqis and other items. It would be a typical maneuver to stay and “train Iraqis” in the tens of thousands. Eventually, there would be another Congressional showdown, but I bet Bush could get another half a year to year out of delaying tactics.

  • Rudi

    AR Why did Sanctorum,Allen and Weldon lose their seats? I think the Iraq war is a big factor and both sided are still playing politics instead of doing something.

  • Perhaps the Democrats should start answering questions like “and how do you intend to make sure that millions of Iraqis won’t get killed once the US withdraws?” The US started this war, you all are responsible.

  • Spinoneone

    If Iraq and Afghanistan were the only places that the US could fight militant, radical Islam, and IF we could be absolutely sure that the fight could be confined to those two locations, then getting out of Iraq in the near future might make sense. However, most Dems and many independents are unwilling, unable, or simply refuse to recognize the fact that Islam commands its followers to rule the world and eliminate the “kafirs” or unbelievers. Any Muslim who is an active believer in his/her religion would acknowledge the “fact” that Islam is the “superior” religion and that Allah and Mohammad command them to spread it world-wide. Islam is not just a religion. It is a socio-political construct which aims at world domination with a single religion, one or a few leaders who have 50 or so “wise Men, including theologians and shari’a law experts” to advise them, and few or no freedoms as we now know and practice them in the West. If Islam wins, it means the end of Western Civilization and democracy. N.B.: “democracy” as a word in Arabic is a borrowed word. It never existed in antique Arabic in the time of Mohammad. If we do set a date certain to remove our forces from Iraq, history may look back on it as the beginning of the world-wide success of Islam.

  • kritter

    Approval of how the president is handling the war is down to 22%, with only 12% believing that the surge is working. I actually think that Petraeus is doing a stellar job with what he’s got to work with, but the Iraqis are not meeting the political benchmarks that were set for them, and resent us for pressuring them to reconcile. The situation is not under our control, which is why ,unfortunately ,I believe that we need to allow them to work it out for themselves- even if the violence escalates.

  • White Agent

    Michael van der Galien- Why don’t the Dutch go save them? No, they die.

  • Kritter:

    You nailed it perfectly.

  • DLS

    Bush is actually going to veto a bill?

  • kritter

    Thanks, Shaun!

    There was a young man from USAID on c-pan this morning, who is trying to raise the profile of Iraqi refugees who, because of our invasion, lost everything they have, and are now living hand-to-mouth in neighboring countries. Many were forced to leave after helping our efforts and receiving death threats from their own countrymen. They are being ignored by the Bush administration, who, true to form, views helping them as an admission of defeat. Those are the people we should feel morally obligated to help, but we aren’t doing a damn thing. I think his name was Kirk Johnson- what impressed me was that beyond helping these people (that he feels have been used and then betrayed by our government) he has no political agenda or self-interest in pursuing this.

    I believe that we should recognize the reality, and move to damage control now.

  • Alex

    If congress wants a time line, give money but enough for a calculated withdrawal, tell the President: here, all the money you get, when it runs out … you better have a different plan.
    If Bush wants support for why the war needs to be funded … START EXPLAINING IT. I am not 12, I understand if there is no money, troops die, *I* understand if we back off the violence comes to us [look at the enemy reaction to the time line votes and debates, there is a link!!!] BUT Congress DOES have the right to say:
    ‘No more money, sorry, we recommend you use the remainder of what you have to withdraw, we won’t give MORE money for that if you waste it!’
    The current mentality of ‘Make THEM look like the bad guy, so I can look good…’ from both sides is costing the lives of our troops, and making our leaders look worse then 8 year olds … mom he won’t stop poking me…..

  • kritter

    There is supposed to be enough money to supply the troops for at least a month- so its not down to the wire yet, despite the rhetoric.

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