Thursday, March 22, 2007

WH Sets End Date for Iraq Supplemental Kabuki

The Washington Post covers the conversion of a number of liberal Democrats to support the Iraq supplemental. They say little that's not covered in the post below this one. They do add one piece of information that will become very important:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned yesterday that if Congress does not pass the supplemental war funding bill by April 15, the Army may have to slow the training of units slated to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, or halt the repair of equipment. If the funding is delayed until May, he said, the tours of Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan might have to be extended "because other units are not ready to take their place."

I've said before that in a fight over 'strings' on the supplemental, the White House has the advantage. The President will state a willingness to consider any good ideas, but say that provisions that limit flexibility on the ground in Iraq threaten American lives. (That's not going out on a limb of course, he's already said it). He'll insist that Congress send up the funding needed to protect our men and women in the field.

Now Bob Gates has given the deadline. Congress has about a month to send up a supplemental before the administration begins to talk daily about the increased risk American troops are facing because of Congress' failure to act. Assuming that the Iraq supplemental passes the House tomorrow, Harry Reid will need to move promptly to get a stalemate in the Senate that will allow the House Appropriations Committee to go back to work on the real supplemental bill - the one that the President will sign.

So this kabuki has only a few more weeks to run.

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