This is a very confusing article! Here's the headline:
Republicans Soften Stance on Pullout LanguageThen the opening summary:
Unwilling to do the White House's heavy lifting on Iraq, Senate Republicans are prepared to step aside to allow language requiring troop withdrawals to reach President Bush, forcing him to face down Democratic adversaries with his veto pen.Then the article implies that the Senate will allow the spending bill to go forward so that the president can veto it. I'm assuming to speed up the process but it's not clear from the article:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) announced the shift in strategy yesterday, as the chamber took up a $122 billion war spending package that includes a target date of March 31, 2008, for ending most U.S. combat operations in Iraq. The provision, along with a similar House effort, represents the Democrats' boldest challenge on the war, setting the stage for a dramatic showdown with Bush over an otherwise popular bill to keep vital military funds flowing.But here's the end of the article:
Republicans will still attempt to remove the deadline in a Senate vote expected as soon as today, and GOP leaders were reasonably confident they would muster a majority. But the margin is expected to be thin, requiring the presence of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had skipped several previous Iraq votes to attend presidential campaign events. McCain canceled a series of fundraisers and meetings in Florida to return to Washington, telling a conservative radio program that he wanted to "beat back this recipe for defeat that the Democrats are trying to foist off on the American people."
No matter the outcome of the Senate vote, McConnell is looking ahead, assuming House Democrats will insist that withdrawal conditions be included when a final bill is sent to Bush. If so, McConnell said, Republicans would forgo the parliamentary tactics they used to block antiwar legislation that had forced Democrats to amass an insurmountable 60 votes to prevail.
"We need to get the bill on down to the president and get the veto out of the way," McConnell said.
Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), the senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee and sponsor of the amendment to strike the withdrawal provision, said he hopes the GOP strategy will induce the White House and Democrats to begin final negotiations sooner. He also acknowledged the political peril Republicans face every time they are required to vote in defense of an increasingly unpopular war.
"We're part of the problem if this doesn't work," Cochran said. Ultimately, Iraq is Bush's battle, he said, and both parties are taking a risk by interfering. "Let him and the commanders in the field figure out a way to win," Cochran said.
What Republicans do not want is a presidential veto, Wamp said. That political showdown could harm the standing of both parties while dealing a real blow to the war effort.
"This is a time when we need to find a way to come together through this conference committee and find a way where the country can unite again," Wamp said. "We need to respect each other's opinions, and we need to avoid a presidential veto.
Very confusing! I would think that the Republicans haven't gone soft on support on the war when they know that 75% of the base is behind it. But then there's this:
But one House lawmaker with close ties to GOP leaders said the outcome would have been considerably different if Republicans thought that they were simply defending the administration.What a whiny brat! Do these guys really want Bush to be the one to own the war? Suck it up and act like a leader. Think about the troops not your bruised ego. Think about what's right for the country not whether the president said, "please" or "thank you." What are you, two?
"We have toed the line enough for the president, and we have gotten no thanks or gratitude. By and large, Republicans are sick of defending an ungrateful president," the Republican House member said.
BTW, Mark Pryor has an idea, why not keep the deadline secret?
In one of the more unusual proposals to emerge in the Senate debate on Iraq withdrawal, Sen. Mark Pryor wants to keep any plans for bringing troops home a secret.Yeah, that would work. How long do you think this leaky congress would be able to keep the secret? I bet it doesn't get past the vote.
The Arkansas Democrat is a key holdout on his party's proposal to approve $122 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while setting a goal of March 31, 2008, for winding up military operations in Iraq. Unlike the plan's Republican opponents, Pryor wants a withdrawal deadline of some kind. He just doesn't want anyone outside the White House, Congress and the Iraqi government to know what it is.