Monday, May 14, 2007

Senate to vote on two Iraq proposals

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid annonced today that two measures on on Iraq war spending would be offered as amendments to a water projects funding bill being debated this week.

The first amendment, co-sponsored by Reid and Sen. Russ Feingold, would require that combat operations end by March 31, 2008, by cutting off funds after that date. Only a residual force would remain to train Iraqi forces and combat Al Qaeda. The second amendment would provide the$120 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but would call for troops to begin leaving Iraq by Oct. 1. However, a waiver proposal would let Bush put off troop withdrawals for 90 days at a time by submitting a ``detailed justification'' to Congress. The measure also calls for withholding 75 percent of U.S. financial aid to Iraq until Bush certifies to Congress that the Iraqi government is making ``substantial progress'' meeting benchmarks, including enacting a law for the sharing of oil revenue and setting a schedule for conducting provincial elections. This will likely shape the final legislation.

The likely purpose here is to give up-or-down votes on the war funds issue to both satisfy Democrats such as Russ Feingold and potentially hurt Republicans by forcing them to go on record. The Feingold-Reid proposal is not likely to pass, and passage of the $120 billion in war spending would not allow the Senate to begin negotiating with the House bill. So the Senate will press on with a vote on a separate Iraq bill, to be voted on this week or next. All this is supposed to be settled before their Memorial Day recess.

Personally, I think they should pass a supplemental that requires troop withdrawal if the Iraqis vote for it...

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