House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested last week that although Republicans could not accept linking benchmarks to troop withdrawals, they could tie them to $5.7 billion in nonmilitary assistance for the Iraqi government.
Blunt spokeswoman Burson Snyder said yesterday that it would be "premature" to rule out such a proposal, in spite of Rice's comments. "We haven't even begun substantive conversations with the Democratic leadership, so how can we start ruling in or out certain provisions?" she said.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) took a similar tack. Boehner "believes members and the administration can and will discuss benchmarks as a way of measuring progress and holding the Iraqi government accountable, and that's where members need to start," said his spokesman Kevin Smith.
Meanwhile, House Democrats are beginning to coalesce around a $19 billion bill to fund the war for about 60 days only. 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."
They hope to pass the measure quickly, as soon as early next week. Negotiations would begin immediately afterward on another bill.
Personally, I think they just keep doing this on a month-to-month basis until enough Republicans are fed up enough with the war we can override Bush on withdrawal.