Friday, March 23, 2007

Liberals Cave

Pelosi finally whipped the liberals into shape and now they are ready to vote for her "deprive the troops of funds for pork" bill (and yes that's in essence what happens when you get to the bottom line):

Liberal opposition to a $124 billion war spending bill broke last night, when leaders of the antiwar Out of Iraq Caucus pledged to Democratic leaders that they will not block the measure, which sets timelines for bringing U.S. troops home.

The acquiescence of the liberals probably means that the House will pass a binding measure today that, for the first time, would establish tough readiness standards for the deployment of combat forces and an Aug. 31, 2008, deadline for their removal from Iraq.

A Senate committee also passed a spending bill yesterday setting a goal of bringing troops home within a year. The developments mark congressional Democrats' first real progress in putting legislative pressure on President Bush to withdraw U.S. forces.

Even more than the conservative Democrats leery of appearing to micromanage the war, House liberals have been the main obstacle to leadership efforts to put a timeline on the withdrawal of U.S. forces. They have complained that the proposal would not bring troops home fast enough. Their opposition has riven the antiwar movement, split the Democratic base and been the main stumbling block to the legislation, which had originally been scheduled for a vote yesterday.

As debate began on the bill yesterday, members of the antiwar caucus and party leaders held a backroom meeting in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a final plea to the group, asking it to deliver at least four votes when the roll is called. The members promised 10.

"I find myself in the excruciating position of being asked to choose between voting for funding for the war or establishing timelines to end it," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). "I have struggled with this decision, but I finally decided that, while I cannot betray my conscience, I cannot stand in the way of passing a measure that puts a concrete end date on this unnecessary war."


Shortly after, Out of Iraq Caucus leaders decided to break the pact that members had made to stick together against the bill. "We have released people who have been pained by all this," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). "We told them we don't want them to be in a position of undermining Nancy's speakership."

To many in the movement against the Iraq war, the liberal opposition to the bill was as maddening as it was mystifying.

"You really have two options here: One is that you can vote for a change of course here and say we're going to find a way out of Iraq, or, two, you can vote against it and hand George Bush a victory," said Jon Soltz, a veteran of the Iraq war and co-founder of, a group that opposes the war. "It doesn't make sense to me. George Bush got us into the war. They have challenged him on everything. Why would they give him this victory now?" he asked, referring to the liberals.
And while they try to micromanage the war and not hand Bush a "victory," or undermine Pelosi's leadership the troops readiness will be impacted:
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."
And it's even going to take longer than May because once they pass this bill, it will have to be voted on in the Senate and then the two bills need to be reconciled and then vetoed by Bush. Then the whole process starts again. Not good. He probably won't get a good bill until the summer at the rate they're going. The only consolation he has is that when they vote on this bill and it passes, they have just bought themselves any problems that we have over there because of the time delay. The defeat just became theirs. They own it now (as Rush says).


And I can't make up my mind which account of the pork sounds more reasonable: ScrappleFace or WaPo (via). But this sounds about right:

The bill, which faces a certain presidential veto, represents “yet another symbolic triumph” for Congressional Democrats, said Rep. Pelosi, who urged her reluctant party members to put aside their differences and to support the measure as the only way to ensure Democrat party funding for their reelection campaigns.