Thursday, March 15, 2007

House Dems Whipping Iraq Vote

Yesterday I predicted that if House Democrats did not change their Iraq supplemental legislation, and did in fact treat the measure as a 'vote of confidence,' with Members free to do whatever they thought best, the bill would not pass.

Now they have apparently decided that's not really an acceptable outcome ($):

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has executed an aggressive push to keep Democratic members of the Appropriations Committee in line as the panel takes up the $124 billion Iraq War spending bill this morning, while Democratic leaders prepare to whip the full Caucus next week.

“This is an unprecedented effort,” one Democratic member of the Appropriations Committee said of recent meetings convened by Pelosi and Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on Defense.

“She’s doing her job to get that bill passed.” the lawmaker added. The measure is scheduled to be marked up in the full Appropriations Committee this morning. “We’re not going to get every vote, but we’ll get it out of committee...”

In addition, Progressive Caucus members — who have called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops before the end of this year, rather than the 2008 date set in the bill — are continuing their own whip count on the spending bill.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said at least 15 lawmakers — including Democrats who are not Progressive lawmakers — will oppose the spending bill...

One senior GOP lawmaker said that at this point 15 of the 17 Republicans who voted in favor of the Democrats’ Iraq resolution in mid-February appeared committed to opposing the spending bill in its current form.

Leadership sources have said they are prepared for GOP Reps. Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.) and Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), vocal opponents of the war, to vote with Democrats. However, those sources have indicated that at this point defections could be contained to single digits.

Despite the efforts of Ms. Pelosi and her team, it sounds as if the math is still against them. If they lose 'at least 15' Democrats, while getting only 2-5 GOP votes, it's nearly impossible to pass the bill.

Remember: the Democratic margin in the House is only 15.

The Hill reports that some Out of Iraq caucus members will support the bill, and others will oppose. Jim Moran - who was against the bill yesterday - is now in favor. And amusingly, Rep. Jim McDermott is inclined to oppose, but is thinking twice since the White House hates the bill:

Out of Iraq Caucus members say they have 20 to 30 votes against the bill, Moran said, such as that of caucus co-founder Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). She has nothing but praise for Pelosi’s handling of the bill but says she can’t support something that, in her mind, continues to fund the war.

“This is not a game,” Woolsey shouted in the Speaker’s Lobby yesterday as reporters pressed her for details. “This is who we are.”

Others are less certain. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) figures there are “40 progressives in flux right now,” and he’s one of them.

“The bill as it stands right now is pretty weak. It allows the war to go on,” he said. “But on the other hand, the president is pretty exercised about it. This is a complex set of moving parts.”

Update: The Victory Caucus posts the text of the House Iraq supplemental here.

Update II: How do you know the Democrats are in trouble in their effort to pass the bill? Their list of potential Blue Dog 'no' votes has grown from 15 to 20 in the last day.

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