The Iraq parliament's recess, starting this July, would likely come without Baghdad politicians reaching agreements considered key to easing sectarian tensions. Examples include regulating distribution of the country's oil wealth and reversing measures that have excluded many Sunnis from jobs and government positions because of Baath party membership.Of "no concern?" More of our troops are being sent to Iraq everyday in a "surge" meant to protect this sorry excuse for a government. Yet, the Bush administration (and many of their Republican supporters) not only reject timetables for our involvement, but also actually holding this government accountable for meeting the benchmarks they themselves agreed to!
Iraqi politicians said Thursday the break might not happen or may be less than two months, but said it should be of no concern to U.S. lawmakers.
This is just more of a reason why Democrats should not give in to Bush and the Republicans on war spending. Despite the fact that withdrawal provisions are going to be dropped, I am hoping I am correct in seeing a silver lining here:
While deadlines for troop withdrawals had to be dropped from the spending bill, such language is likely to appear in a defense policy measure that is expected to reach the House floor in two weeks, just when a second war funding bill could be ready for a House vote. Democrats want the next spending measure to pass before Congress recesses on May 25 for Memorial Day weekend.
Beyond that, Democrats remain deeply divided over how far to give in to the White House.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) indicated that the next bill will include benchmarks for Iraq -- such as passing a law to share oil revenue, quelling religious violence and disarming sectarian militias -- to keep its government on course. Failure to meet benchmarks could cost Baghdad billions of dollars in nonmilitary aid, and the administration would be required to report to Congress every 30 days on the military and political situation in Iraq.
I don't think most Democrats in Congress would or should accept anything less (the column goes on to say Rep. Obey, chair of the Appropriations Committee, won't report out any bill that Democrats can't support), and it's likely a lot of liberals convinced to support this first bill will not accept anything less.
I'm fine with benchmarks, but they should absolutely be binding and this spending bill should fund the war for only 1 or 2 months. Beyond that, I am encouraged that the timeline may resurface in the defense appropriations bill that will be considered soon.
UPDATE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering a proposal that would pay for the Iraq war through at least July but cut off funding after that if the Iraqi government does not meet certain political and security goals. Good plan.