Friday, September 07, 2007

No. 2 Dem in Senate says he won't support war funding without limits

Sen. Dick Durbin - the Majority Whip of the Senate - says he can "no longer vote for funding the war in Iraq unless restrictions are attached that would begin winding down American involvement there."

From the AP:
"This Congress can't give President (George W.) Bush another blank check for Iraq," said Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, who has always opposed the war but until now voted to fund it.

"I can't support an open-ended appropriation which allows this president to continue this failed policy," he said in a speech at the left-leaning Center for National Policy.

Durbin, from Illinois, said he and Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin were working on limits that could be attached to the next war funding bill, such as limiting troops to conducting counterterrorism operations and training Iraqi security forces.
Sounds like what has been attempted before, but hopefully others will follow Durbin's lead on not voting for another supplemental with nothing attached.

However, Democrats are coming under fire from many in the blogosphere for seeking a "compromise" version of the next withdrawal bill, particularly Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for recent comments in support of this idea and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for allowing an upcoming vote on a non-binding measure that simply requires the Pentagon report on a plan to redeploy troops out of Iraq. Senator Chris Dodd, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, has already come out and said he will not vote for any bill without a date certain for completing redeployments. Likely many of his colleagues agree, as does the "Out of Iraq" caucus in the House.

But, I must ask, what is the point of putting up such legislation when it will be certainly filibustered or vetoed? It seems obvious to me that any legislation similar to the previous withdrawal bills will still pick up only a handful more Republican votes at best. Sen. Carl Levin's stated purpose in proposing a revised version of the Levin-Reed bill that would require troop withdrawals to begin but leave out a firm timetable for completion (just like what had been proposed by Rep. John Murtha a couple of months ago) is to get enough Republican votes so they can avoid a filibuster and, eventually anyway, a presidential veto. While it would not be ideal, such a bill would at least end the surge and bring some troops home for the time being.

Then, I believe, Democrats could safely prohibit the money for any future deployments of withdrawn troops (the crux of Feingold-Reed, essentially) without the political worries they have of doing so with troops currently in the field. Such a situation would be much more palatable, and thus politically doable, for the more hesitant Democrats and Republicans than simply cutting funding for the war right now (which there is obviously not anywhere near majority support for). So if we are looking at this situation pragmatically, it would seem to be that the new Levin-Reed bill makes the most sense at this point.

This is not to say I don't prefer a withdrawal bill like what has been passed before in Congress, but I don't see another retry that will have any impact on the war at all, given what happened back in May and the current political atmosphere (that is, Republicans aren't living up to predictions that they'd jump ship come September). The above scenario, even if it is not enough to bring the war to a close, at least has the possibility of getting a change of course in Iraq. In the end, isn't that what all this is about?

Perhaps my assessment is wrong, and if someone comes up with a better plan that achieves better results, I'd be happy to support it. But right now, I'm not seeing that from anyone.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

In light of some Democrats taking trips over to Iraq and declaring that there is progress on the ground, then yeah I think this is what we have to take right now.

My only criteria is that the bill over some real, substantive change in the mission that forces the course of the war out of the President's hands in some substantial way. That it's not full withdrawal by a set timeframe is of no matter to me, as my hope would be that a bill could be an eventual gateway to that. And yes, some Republicans have to be brought on board, and it has to be palatable to them. Anything more than that is unrealistic, and anything less is the Democrats giving away the substantial PR advantage they have.