Democrats gave up their demand for troop-withdrawal deadlines in an Iraq war spending package yesterday, abandoning their top goal of bringing U.S. troops home and handing President Bush a victory in a debate that has roiled Congress for months.
The spending package, expected to total $120 billion when the final version is released today, would require Bush to surrender virtually none of his war authority. Democrats were working to secure two other priorities that the president had previously resisted -- an increase in the minimum wage and funding for domestic programs, including veterans' benefits, Hurricane Katrina relief and agricultural aid.
Instead of sticking with troop-withdrawal dates, Democrats accepted a GOP plan to establish 18 political and legislative benchmarks for the Iraqi government, with periodic reports from Bush on its progress, starting in late July. If the Iraqis fall short, they could forfeit U.S. reconstruction aid.
And lordy, lordy:
Reid called the benchmark language "extremely weak," but he noted that Bush had initially demanded a bill with no strings attached on Iraq. "For heaven's sake, look where we've come," Reid said. "It's a lot more than the president ever expected he'd have to agree to."
Yes, for heaven's sake, it's not like there's a totally fucked up war going on or anything. Lighten up, people!
Meanwhile, Pelosi is singing Tomorrow, tomorrow, we'll end the war tomorrow...
"This is another stage in the sequencing of ending this war," said Pelosi, who added that September would be "the moment of truth."
Riiight...see you in September, Nancy.
The NYT reports:
But even so, many Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, indicated that they would not support the war money, meaning that a significant number of Republicans would have to sign on to ensure the plan’s approval.
Ms. Pelosi made clear that if money for the war was going to be provided without a timeline for withdrawal, it would be without her personal support. “I would never vote for such a thing,” Ms. Pelosi said as she entered the office of Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, to put the final touches on the $120 billion proposal.
So, what was the point of all of this?
That's what Russ Feingold would like to know:
“There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action,” said Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, who was unsuccessful last week in his push for a withdrawal of combat troops by spring. “Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq.”
Just wait til September, Russ...September...only a few more thousand people will have died by then...and hey, maybe Buscho will have strong-armed the supposedly democratically-elected Iraqi government to sign that oil law (because that's what this waiting game is really all about - getting the oil profits into the hands of private US war profiteers.)