Congressional Democrats offered another plan to push withdrawal from Iraq this week through a $50 billion “bridge fund” to continue military operations in Iraq. The leadership had said they would not take up Bush’s $196 billion request until January, but decided they should try to pass some funding now. The bill would make the funding contingent on beginning a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, with a goal of completing withdrawal by December 15, 2008, leaving behind troops for training, protection and counter-terrorism. Democrats tried to pass a similar plan in March, only to have it vetoed by President Bush. An anonymous attendee of the meeting where Speaker Pelosi presented the plan quoted her as saying, “If you don’t want that, Mr. President, you ain’t getting nothing.” While the plan is not as strong as we would like, the attitude that Bush must take funding tied to a withdrawal if he wants any money is exactly what we have been pushing the congressional leadership to do.
The vote was originally expected today?, but new opposition from the Democratic caucus has pushed it back. The plan faces opposition from Republicans as well as conservative Democrats who think it goes too far, while liberal Democrats think the bill is too soft. As expected, the Bush administration is already promising a veto:
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Thursday that Bush would again veto any legislation that sets an "artificial timeline" for troop withdrawals.
"We should be supporting our troops as they are succeeding, not finding ways to undercut their mission," he said.
Pelosi, D-Calif., told members in a private caucus meeting on Thursday that if Bush rejected the measure, she did not intend on sending him another war spending bill for the rest of the year.
"It’s a war without end," Pelosi, D-Calif., later told reporters. "There is no light at the end of the tunnel. We must reverse it."
We will have to wait and see what happens next week and if there will be efforts to further tweak the bill. As always, we will keep the pressure on to make sure the leadership does not make the same mistake they made earlier this year by continuing to fund the war without restrictions.