I reported to you last week that despite the overwhelming public support for a timeline and the facts on the ground in Iraq, the congressional leadership has been taking a more conciliatory tone. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been softening on his demands for a concrete timeline for withdrawal of US troops:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are calculating that it is futile to continue their months-long campaign to force an immediate end to the war, particularly after Republicans and a few Democrats returned from the summer recess intent on opposing legislation mandating a strict timetable for pulling out U.S. troops.
The change is both rhetorical and substantive. Reid and others are increasingly talking of “bipartisan compromise,” while top Democrats are reworking legislation erasing a date certain for ending the military operation. The strategic shift is certain to anger some war critics, but it reflects the reality that Democrats lack the votes to force President Bush’s hand.
Alarmed that anti-war politicians were suddenly on the defensive, many key members of Congress are fighting back and continuing to push for a timeline. Seventy members of Congress have now signed a letter saying they will not support any funding for the war unless it is used to withdraw US troops from Iraq. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently declared that he would no longer vote for blank checks to fund the occupation of Iraq.
The funding for the war will probably be voted on sometime in October, so we have time to continue flooding Congress with phone calls, e-mails and letters demanding a swift and responsible end to the war in Iraq.