Time to bring it out again…
Just about an hour ago, the Dems passed their Iraq withdrawal bill, tying $50 billion in war funding to a demand that President Bush start bringing troops home in coming weeks (never mind that it’s already starting) with a mandated timetable of ending combat by December 2008:
House Democrats pushed through a $50 billion bill for the Iraq war Wednesday night that would require President Bush to start bringing troops home in coming weeks with a goal of ending combat by December 2008.
The legislation, passed 218-203, was largely a symbolic jab at Bush, who already has begun reducing force levels but opposes a congressionally mandated timetable on the war. And while the measure was unlikely to pass in the Senate — let alone overcome a presidential veto — Democrats said they wanted voters to know they weren’t giving up.
“The fact is, we can no longer sustain the military deployment in Iraq,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “Staying there in the manner that we are there is no longer an option.”
Translation of Pelosi’s remarks: “Stop pestering me, Code Pink! I beg you to stop!”
The White House says it will veto the bill; the GOP reportedly will back the president. Nancy was sweating it for a bit this evening:
The bill represents about a quarter of the $196 billion Bush requested for combat operations in the 2008 budget year, which began Oct 1.
It would compel an unspecified number of troops to leave Iraq within 30 days, a requirement Bush is already on track to meet as he begins in coming weeks to reverse the 30,000 troop buildup he ordered earlier this year. It also sets a goal of ending combat by Dec. 15, 2008, and states that money included in the bill should be used to redeploy troops and “not to extend or prolong the war.”
The measure also would set government-wide standards on interrogation, effectively barring the CIA from using such harsh techniques as waterboarding, which simulates drowning.
The bill was on shaky ground this week, after some liberal Democrats said they were concerned it was too soft and would not force Bush to end the war. Conservative Democrats said they thought it went too far and would tie the hands of military commanders.
The bill’s prospects brightened somewhat after three leading anti-war Democrats announced they would support it. California Reps. Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters said they had agreed to swing behind it because the bill explicitly states the money should be used to bring troops home.
But still uncertain the bill would pass, Pelosi on Wednesday delayed a vote by several hours while she met with supporters and asked them to help her round up votes.
Fifteen Democrats broke ranks and joined 188 Republicans in opposing the measure. Four Republicans joined 214 Democrats in supporting it.
Roll call vote coming up…
The 15 Dems who opposed the withdrawal bill:
Kucinich (because he didn’t think it went far enough)
Stark (because he didn’t think it went far enough)
The 4 Republicans who supported the withdrawal bill:
One voted “present:”
And 11 didn’t vote:
John Boehner’s office e-mailed the following statement following the vote:
“By Christmas, some 3,000 American troops will return home from Iraq after achieving remarkable success in our fight against al Qaeda. And how is Congress welcoming them back? By passing yet another politically-motivated measure that cuts off funding for those continuing to serve our nation in Iraq and hamstrings the commanders who are leading them to victory. This measure will never be signed into law, and it represents yet another failure for Democratic leaders intent on putting politics before accomplishment.
“Congress would be better served by sending the President the long-overdue veterans and troops funding bill, which enjoys broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. But the Majority leadership has played politics with this critical legislation, stalling its completion to take up today’s cynical proposal to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq. Consequently, returning troops and their families will face more hurdles and take more time to get the housing and health care benefits they deserve – all thanks to Congress.
“Under General Petraeus’ strategy, our troops are routing al Qaeda in Iraq, improving security for the Iraqi people, and laying the foundation for critical political reconciliation in that country. Congress should not undermine this success and risk having al Qaeda stand back up. Instead, Members of both parties should recognize that the Petraeus plan is working, continue to solidify our troops’ gains, and work to bring them home after victory, not defeat.”
The NYT covers tonight’s “rancorous debate” on the House floor:
In two hours of rancorous debate on the House floor, Republicans stressed the recent progress in Iraq while Democrats said that the political situation remained bleak and that it was time to pull out American troops.
“The sacrifice of our troops was simply not met by the actions of the Iraqi government,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. “This legislation today offers something fundamentally different than what President Bush is proposing, a 10-year war, a war without end costing trillions of dollars. It provides the tools to our troops so they can get the job done. It also presents a strategy that will bring them home, responsibly, honorably, safely and soon.”
…For Republicans, the debate provided another chance to accuse the Democrats of wasting time. “Today, if my calculations are right, we will have our 58th vote on trying to restrain the commanders in the field in Iraq,” said Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the Republican whip. “The Democrats appear to never get tired of foregone conclusions, to never get tired of doing the same thing over and over again with the same result — the ultimate Groundhog Day of legislation that doesn’t get us anywhere.”
The White House also hammered the Democrats in Congress. Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, promised a veto and accused the Democrats of ignoring gains in Iraq.
You’ll love this bit of editorializing in the last paragraph of the NYT piece:
The debate over war financing also provided a forum for Republicans to praise recent developments in Iraq, including what they called a decline in violence.
“…what they called a decline in violence.”
Related: A Pat Dollard reader has an interesting exchange with a WaPo reporter about the MSM coverage of Iraq. Read it.
Related: Make The Long War Journal part of your daily diet.