Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The latest on Congress and Iraq

-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced that Democrats will not seek "compromise" legislation with Republicans and keep in a firm timetable to end the war, suggesting weaker legislation would not pick up significant Republican support to matter anyway.

The current vehicle being offered is from Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and would require that the U.S. begin withdrawing some troops from Iraq within 90 days. The U.S. would then have to hand off the combat mission to the Iraqis within nine months and restrict U.S. troops to such tasks as fighting terrorists and training the Iraqi security force. This proposal will be considered as an amendment to a defense policy bill on the floor, along with a proposal by Sen. Russ Feingold that would cut off money for combat operations next year after redeployment is complete and the one by Sen. Jim Webb limiting the length of combat tours.

Meanwhile, Sen. Barack Obama joined fellow presidential candidates John Edwards and Sen. Chris Dodd and other lawmakers in saying no war funding should be approved without a timetable for withdrawal. Far more of a surprise, however, was Sen. Ken Salazar - who hasn’t been the most anti-war Democrat - saying he'd consider cutting funding for the war because troops in Iraq encouraged him to do so.

-On the House side, Democrats are not expected to take up President Bush's war spending request until November to give them more time to consider their strategy, AP reports. In February, Bush requested $147 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in budget year 2008, which begins Oct. 1. Rep. Jack Murtha, who chairs the House committee that oversees military spending, has said he favors paying for the war in three- or four-month installments. Murtha also said that GOP colleagues have told him privately they oppose Bush's strategy in Iraq, but Murtha believes they will not support Democratic efforts to end the war until after the GOP primaries next year to avoid angering their still rabidly pro-war base.

The Senate Dems' change of position might have to do with some new polls and the fact that Sen. Reed's democratic response to President Bush's war speech last week got higher ratings than the speech itself, according to a Think Progress report.

-A poll released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 54 percent of Americans still favor bringing troops home as soon as possible. And "despite slight improvements in peoples' views of military progress, more said the U.S. will likely fail in Iraq than succeed by 47 percent to 42 percent, about the same margin as in July." 49 percent said Bush should remove more troops than he announced he would last week and two out of three said their views on the war had not been changed by presentations last week by Gen. Petraeus.

-In a separate survey by CBS News, sixty-eight percent of Americans say that U.S. troop levels in Iraq should either be reduced or that all troops should be removed - similar numbers to those before Mr. Bush's speech. Fewer than a third said the "surge" has made things better, while the rest said they have had no impact or made things worse. Only 22 percent said they are willing to keep large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq longer than two more years, largely unchanged from the previous survey (overall, 63% believe things are going bad in Iraq and 55% believe the U.S. is unlikely to succeed). Nearly half, or 49 percent, said they should stay less than a year while 23 percent said they should remain for a year or two. However, only a third said they believe large U.S. forces will be in Iraq for less than two years, while most believe it will be longer.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

Tough stance? Thank God. Politicians think it's some kind of selling point that they don't pay attention to polls, but that's just foolhardy. Dems would be well advised to remember that most people in America are in their corner on the war, and that they hold a significant advantage against the White House on public opinion.