Tuesday, March 27, 2007

McConnell Wants a Veto; Does Reid Have the Votes

Roll Call ($) reports this morning (as do some other outlets) that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell won't attempt to filibuster the 'slow bleed' Iraq supplemental:

Like ripping off a Band-Aid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that he just wants to get the inevitable over with and have President Bush veto a Democratic-crafted emergency war spending bill.

Far from being concerned about whether he has the votes this week to eliminate a Democratic provision establishing a suggested timetable for withdrawal from the Iraq War, McConnell instead indicated that — regardless of the outcome of that vote — Republicans would not attempt to filibuster any House-Senate conference report even if it includes a mandatory or optional date for troops to begin coming home.

Implying that Republicans could get a timetable-free bill by simply waiting for Democrats to concede defeat, McConnell said, “I think we need to get the bill on down to the president, get the veto out of the way, and get serious about passing a troop funding bill.”

In fact, McConnell urged haste in passing the bill this week, saying, “We need to have enough time to get through the veto process and repass this bill.”

He added that Democrats, who are unlikely to find two-thirds in either chamber willing to override a veto, would be forced to pass a war spending bill without any withdrawal language.

Roll Call also covers the anticipated effort of Thad Cochran to eliminate the forced-surrender language, and of Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn to strip earmarks.

Allah implies McConnell might be waving a white flag; that he might be concerned about giving the nutroots a weapon to use against him in his reelection run next year. I think that's off the mark.

There aren't many members in the Senate who've relished a fight more than McConnell, and his tenacity in opposition to campaign finance reform showed that he takes the anger of the Left as proof that he's doing something right. I'm sure that's the case here.

I think his plan here simply recognizes the fact that the Democrats are boxed in. Having already lost the vote on Reid's non-binding withdrawal resolution, he might have counted votes and decided that the Democrats can't pass a forced-surrender conference report. (I think that's a fair possibility - considering he's lost Lieberman, and perhaps several others). Even if they can pass it, McConnell probably believes that the President and the GOP won't be hurt when the President vetoes the bill (a reasonable conclusion). In fact, it might be the Democrats who pay the price with their base when they inevitably must pass a clean bill.

Update: Heard from a source on the Hill, who says that Senator McConnell believes a veto will move the underlying funding to the troops faster and more effectively than can a Senate filibuster.

Update: Captain Ed's conclusion is similar.