Friday, August 31, 2007

Reid Has No Good Option on Iraq

Harry Reid is willing to negotiate an end to the Iraq war, if he can get the Republican support he needs to do so:

Saying the coming weeks will be "one of the last opportunities" to alter the course of the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said he is now willing to compromise with Republicans to find ways to limit troop deployments in Iraq.

Reid acknowledged that his previous firm demand for a spring withdrawal deadline had become an obstacle for a small but growing number of Republicans who have said they want to end the war but have been unwilling to set a timeline.

"I don't think we have to think that our way is the only way," Reid said of specific dates during an interview in his office here. "I'm not saying, 'Republicans, do what we want to do.' Just give me something that you think you would like to do, that accomplishes some or all of what I want to do."
The problem is simple math, really. The President will veto any bill with which he disagrees, and so far Congress has not resorted to the option presented them under the Constitution: cut off funding. Whether because Reid and Pelosi refuse to take the political risk of denying needed resources to troops in the field, or whether because they have counted votes and know that a bipartisan majority would override and embarrass them, they have not done so.

And since they can't or won't cut off funds, they are forced to pursue a strategy of imposing conditions on the White House. But the challenge there is that since the President will veto onerous legislation, they need 67 votes in the Senate and 290 votes in the House. That's virtually impossible.

But 'fortunately' for Reid, he may again have the chance to stop the war by denying funding. That's because the administration will request $50 billion more to fund the surge for the remainder of the year. That's likely to represent another no-win situation for Reid and Pelosi, since there's no reason to think that Congress will deny the funds.

The Left is not happy with Reid's announcement. At the Huffington Post, the advice for Senator Reid is not to negotiate -- just to deny the funds. DailyKos is livid -- and seems prepared to declare war on Reid. OpenLeft says Democrats have already lost. TPM gets it exactly right, and wonders if Reid has the guts to end the war by denying funds:

A charitable way to look at this is that it's a "Devil in the details" kind of situation. Come September, Reid -- aside from peripheral measures such as the troop rest measure -- would appear to have basically only two choices before him on the larger question of war funding: Refuse to fund the war unless the funding is attached to a withdrawal timeline, or agree to fund it without a date-certain. If Reid is only saying he's willing to compromise right now and has no intention of doing the latter, no biggie.

But if he does end up doing the latter, of course, Reid will catch Hell. It really is hard to imagine that the Dem leadership would do that, but after the FISA fiasco, it's anyone's guess what's next.

Once it becomes clear to the base that they can't get 70-80 Congressional Republicans to force a timeline on the President, they will ratchet up the pressure to cut off funds.

Will Reid have the chutzpah -- and the votes -- to do now what he did not dare do before?

1 comment:

Dave said...

Keen insight on the conundrum faced by Reid and anti-war Democrats:

Well done.