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...