Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dems Who Follow their Heart on Iraq

In the wake of the President's 'surge' speech, many around the blogosphere are noting that it is difficult (still) to figure out what the Democrats propose to do on Iraq. As I've chronicled before, Charlie Rangel has said that there's no reason they should be expected to propose anything. Other Democrats are trying to figure out what course is politically sellable.

But part of the problem is that many Democrats already know what they want to do in Iraq: get out as fast as possible. One of those is Lynn Woolsey (D-CA):

During her appearance on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” yesterday, Woolsey discussed the framework of her plan for the U.S. military involvement in Iraq. At the crux of her plan is a withdrawal of all troops from Iraq in six months and non-military funding of Iraq’s reconstruction. She is seeking a Republican cosponsor.

Woolsey, who co-founded the Out of Iraq Caucus, said, “We would have six months to finish training the Iraqi soldiers and to bring all of our troops out of Iraq.”

Once the troops are out, the U.S. “would end with investment back into Iraq, in their infrastructure, and into their reconciliation and their reconstruction, only if we were invited,” Woolsey said...

Waters, the chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus, said she has “discussed the legislation” with Woolsey and that she supports it. However, Waters did not say she preferred Woolsey’s legislation to other plans but rather that she supports all legislation that sets a schedule to end the war.

“I support all legislation that will (1), oppose a troop surge; (2), oppose blanket supplemental appropriations; and (3), call for a withdrawal of troops in the short term,” Waters said.

Woolsey’s legislation is far from becoming the preferred legislation of House Democratic leaders and may be a long way from a House vote. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said Pelosi’s office has yet to see Woolsey’s bill.

Yet, some newly elected Democrats — especially from red states — do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and voting on such a measure would trigger criticism one way or the other.

Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have promised to run the House in an open way, but if they do not allow votes on Iraq withdrawal bills, the Out of Iraq Caucus will likely object.

The caucus is comprised of about 70 members, including powerful committee chairmen and certain lawmakers in leadership...

If the Democrats really plan to hold a series of 'symbolic votes' on the war in Iraq, they will almost certainly have to give a vote to the 'Out of Iraq' caucus bill. I suspect that a proposal like the one Ms. Woolsey is drafting - a timed withdrawal with support afterwards - might not be all that unpopular with the general public, either. Still, its adoption would likely add to the picture of the Democratic party as weak on defense and the War on Terror.

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