Thursday, March 08, 2007

House Dems Going After Iraq Spies

It's not what you think.

Roll Call ($) reports that House Democratic leaders are upset that some Members are leaking information about their plans for the Iraq supplemental bill. They've planted false info to smoke out the offenders:

Internal divisions within the majority have slowed progress on the measure as Democratic leaders have sought to balance the demands of more conservative members with those of the party’s progressive, anti-war faction.

But Obey said he laid blame for much of that divisiveness on “leaks” about the bill, criticizing those lawmakers who have provided information to the media before the details have been finalized.

“Our primary problem has been that Members don’t know what’s in it,” Obey said of the spending bill. Those admissions, he added, have prompted unnecessary arguments within the Caucus: “Then [Members are] reacting to something that really isn’t on the table.”

In an effort to battle those disclosures, Obey acknowledged that he recently disseminated false information during a closed-door meeting on the spending bill in an effort to identify the source of the leaks.

On Tuesday, “when I read the paper I figured out who two of those people were,” Obey added, although he declined to identify the lawmakers, including whether they are members of the Appropriations panel. He also refused to discuss the false information that he provided. Those individuals “will not be invited to further meetings,” he added.

Rumor has it they are also being put on double secret probation, and they must wear 'I Love Ann Coulter' hats.

The Out of Iraq Caucus meanwhile, is trying to make clear that they don't want to cut funds for the troops at all. They say this is a misrepresenation. They fully support giving the troops every penny they need to get out of Iraq as soon as possible:

In the meantime, the Progressive Caucus, which has sought language in the supplemental requiring the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, is slated to unveil its proposal this morning to fund such an effort.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) described the measure Wednesday as a “fully funded withdrawal.”

“The press and a lot of people have continually misrepresented what people are doing here. This is not cutting off funds,” Nadler said. “We want to provide the funds, but we want to limit the use of the funds.”

Under the proposal, both existing and future funds could be used for troop withdrawal and economic reconstruction in Iraq, but could not be used to further the war effort, Nadler explained.

“We’re not cutting the funds by a nickel,” he added. While Nadler said the Progressive Caucus would like to see the language included in the supplemental bill itself, lawmakers likely will have to offer the measure as an amendment to the spending bill.

While the proposal will call for the withdrawal to be completed by the end of 2007, Nadler said that date could be changed. “Obviously we’d be willing to talk,” he said.

Nice to see that they're very open, and willing to discuss any plan to declare defeat and come home as quickly as possible.

And House Republicans are not afraid to vote against a bad bill. Adam Putnam lays out the strategy:

House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) refuted the idea that Republicans are taking a political risk by potentially voting down a spending bill to provide funds to troops in combat.

“We could vote for a clear wartime supplemental before supper tomorrow,” he said. “The reason why this is so complicated is because the Democrats are making it complicated to pacify the third of their Caucus who wants to immediately cut off funds to the troops, the third of their Caucus who would like to cut off funds for the troops but don’t want credit for it, and the third of their Caucus that ran as Republicans and are running away from the other two-thirds of their colleagues.”

I've noted before that the Democrats court trouble if they pass a bill that the President will veto. I strongly suspect that with his bully pulpit, and the tendency of voters to err on the side of the troops, he'll put the Democrats in a very bad spot politically if he argues that their proposal is too gummed up with red tape and misplaced priorities, and he needs a clean bill that he can sign to ensure the safety of men and women in harm's way.

Update: The Hill meanwhile, suggests that the Democratic leadership bill will require a withdrawal if the Iraqi government fails to meet certain benchmarks - but it's apparently non-binding:

House Democratic leaders have settled on a tentative proposal to require the Iraqi government to meet a series of benchmarks and, if they miss meeting those conditions, U.S. troops would begin a phased redeployed by a certain date, said a Democratic aide.

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said he would present the plan to freshman Democrats and the centrist Blue Dog Democrats.

“I’m looking for the center of gravity in the House,” Obey said. “People need to understand, we’re not a bunch of Thomas Jeffersons writing the Declaration of Independence. This language is not going to be language for the ages.”

“We’ve made many, many changes,” Obey said. “We hope we will be able to lay out a fairly complete package.”

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with members of the Progressive Caucus late yesterday afternoon.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, did not seem keen to endorse the proposal.

“There’s no enforcement mechanism,” she said. “We have had the same thing in place for two years and we’re expecting [Bush] to do something, who has no intention of working with us?”

Mr. Obey is to put it generously, misspeaking. He is not looking for the 'center of gravity' in the House. He's trying to earn the backing of a significant majority of the Democratic caucus. And if he does not give the Out of Iraq caucus a vote on their idea, I don't see how this can work.

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