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.
The key impasse in Congress is whether to require redeployments of U.S. troops if the benchmarks are not met.
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.
A new spending bill "has got to be tied to redeployment," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the House's fourth-ranking Democratic leader. He conceded, however, that Democrats have yet to figure out where they will find the votes.
"Our members will not accept restraints on the military," House Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri said. He suggested tying benchmarks to continued U.S. nonmilitary aid to Iraq, an idea that many Democrats consider too weak.
The only thing that is clear right now is that a lot of Republicans will have to be on board for whatever compromise is hashed out because many Democrats will not accept anything less than what has already been passed.