Monday, March 12, 2007

Democrats' Iraq Timetable Might Die in Committee

The Hill covers the story.

I would label this potential outcome extremely unlikely. Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey is pretty bright. I don't think there's a chance that he would bring forth a bill that couldn't pass the Committee.

Still, it would be great if the party's left wing brought down the leadership's bill:

House Democrats enjoy a 37-29 advantage over Republicans on the influential Appropriations Committee that will be voting Thursday to withdraw all troops from Iraq by August of next year, or earlier.

But the problem confronting leadership officials is that 12 of the panel Democrats are members of the Out of Iraq Caucus, meaning that if most Republicans reject the spending bill, the caucus has the ability to kill the measure.

Democratic leaders are confident that they have the votes to move the bill to the floor. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week that “many members of the Out of Iraq Caucus have committed to [the legislation.]”

Yet, when asked for comment on the bill yesterday, only Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) gave a solid indication of support, with a spokesman saying Moran “would back what leadership is pushing for...”

“I think most people in the Out of Iraq Caucus and the Progressive Caucus realize this is a major step forward,” said Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), an Out of Iraq appropriator. “To achieve an end date, you need 218 votes.”

Still, the vote will be a difficult one for Out of Iraq Caucus members. If they back the funding bill, they’ll be open to criticism from anti-war groups they have worked with over the last couple of years. A no vote will be remembered by Democratic leaders.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he does not believe the Democratic funding bill has the votes to pass the lower chamber. A potential large factor in that outcome is how many GOP lawmakers back the supplemental. Seventeen Republican House legislators recently voted to oppose President Bush’s surge plan in Iraq...

It's interesting to see Boehner question whether the appropriations bill can pass the House. The Democrats are acting as if that's an outcome that they don't fear - implying that they believe the public will blame Republicans for refusing to support the funding.

But as I have noted before, the Democrats will be the losers if this is what eventually happens. The President and Congressional Republicans will prevail by arguing that all they are asking for is a clean bill to give the troops necessary material, and all other policy differences can be debated separately.

Update: While you're at it, see how much attention Nancy Pelosi and the 'pretty bright' David Obey pay to their own proposals on Iraq. They can't even remember what it is.

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