***update:*** The Washington Post blasts the Pelosi plan. Writes the editorial board: “It makes perfect sense, if the goal is winning votes in the United States.” Wow. There’s more:
THE RESTRICTIONS on Iraq war funding drawn up by the House Democratic leadership are exquisitely tailored to bring together the party’s leftist and centrist wings. For the Out of Iraq Caucus, which demands that Congress force a withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of this year, there is language that appears to deliver that mandate, albeit indirectly. For those who prefer a more moderate course, there is another withdrawal deadline, in August 2008. Either way, almost all American troops would be out of Iraq by the time the next election campaign begins in earnest. And there are plenty of enticements on the side: more money for wounded veterans, for children’s health, for post-Hurricane Katrina reconstruction.
The only constituency House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ignored in her plan for amending President Bush’s supplemental war funding bill are the people of the country that U.S. troops are fighting to stabilize. The Democratic proposal doesn’t attempt to answer the question of why August 2008 is the right moment for the Iraqi government to lose all support from U.S. combat units. It doesn’t hint at what might happen if American forces were to leave at the end of this year — a development that would be triggered by the Iraqi government’s weakness. It doesn’t explain how continued U.S. interests in Iraq, which holds the world’s second-largest oil reserves and a substantial cadre of al-Qaeda militants, would be protected after 2008; in fact, it may prohibit U.S. forces from returning once they leave.
In short, the Democratic proposal to be taken up this week is an attempt to impose detailed management on a war without regard for the war itself.
Doing what they do best: Dems abandon war authority provision.
Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush’s authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White House over the Iraq war.
Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the leadership had decided to strip from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.
Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy.
The developments occurred as Democrats pointed toward an initial test vote in the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday on the overall bill, which would require the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by Sept. 1, 2008, if not earlier. The measure provides nearly $100 billion to pay for fighting in two wars, and includes more money than the president requested for operations in Afghanistan and what Democrats called training and equipment shortages.
The White House has issued a veto threat against the bill, and Vice President Dick Cheney attacked its supporters in a speech, declaring they “are telling the enemy simply to watch the clock and wait us out.”
It’s not just Republicans balking:
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said in an interview there is widespread fear in Israel about Iran, which is believed to be seeking nuclear weapons and has expressed unremitting hostility about the Jewish state.
“It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran,” she said of the now-abandoned provision.
“I didn’t think it was a very wise idea to take things off the table if you’re trying to get people to modify their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York.
Several officials said there was widespread opposition to the proposal at a closed-door meeting last week of conservative and moderate Democrats, who said they feared tying the hands of the administration when dealing with an unpredictable and potentially hostile regime in Tehran.
And here’s another Dem with sense:
“This supplemental should be about supporting the troops and providing what they need,” said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., on Monday upon returning from a trip to Iraq. Boren said he plans to oppose any legislation setting a clear deadline for troops to leave.
Cheney’s full remarks, btw, are here.