Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Democrats’ Risky Fund-the-War-With-Timetable-Proposal

Why is the U.S. House of Representatives poised to give Bush nearly $100 billion more to fight the Iraq war as long as the troops are brought home by 2008? According to polls over 90% of Democratic voters want Congress to refuse ALL future funding and demand the troops home in 2007. Even 25% of registered Republicans back that move.  Approval of Congress has dropped to 38% in the last month because of perceived weakness on ending the war–their clear mandate from November’s elections.   Like many others, this has made me very angry, but I have been involved in politics long enough to see the strategy–a slick strategy that could work, but has risks.

It all hinges on 2 calculations: (1) a desire not to seem to cut off funding for the troops and leave them vulnerable in the field.  They wouldn’t actually be doing this. There is enough money already in the pipeline to keep the troops safe and bring them home in an orderly withdrawal. But the Democratic leadership does NOT want to be “swiftboated” and so is wary of even appearing to be causing risk to the troops. (2) They are counting on Bush’s threat to veto any legislation with a withdrawal date and with Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s threat to filibuster any attempt to get such out of the Senate.

Follow me here, because (2) is tricky. If the senate passes the same funding legislation with a withdrawal date AND BUSH VETOES IT, then Bush gets no more funding (thanks to not having  line-item veto power). Thus, it would be the president, and not Congress, who “cut off funds for the troops.” If McConnell blocks passage of this in the senate, the bill fails and still no new funds for the war are passed–and public opinion is marshalled against the Republicans (not the Democrats) and more pressure arises for a swifter end to the war.  If, on the other hand, Bush doesn’t veto this, he has, at least, set a deadline for troop withdrawal–for the first time since invading.

But, the big risk is that the Senate will pass a different version of the bill and then, in a reconciliation committee, the deadline will be dropped, and Bush will get all the money he wants without the deadline he doesn’t want.  This is less likely with Democrats in charge of appointing such a reconciliation committee, but it is still an unacceptable risk. And January 2008 is too long to wait to end this war. 

So, I urge everyone to call 800-828-0498, 800-459-1887 or 800-614-2803 and demand that Congress refuse to fund one more dime for the war. Instead, they should pass Rep. Barbara Lee’s amendment that would demand withdrawal NOW.  There is little chance that such would pass the Senate and no chance that it would pass in large enough numbers to override a veto (stopping a war is much harder than starting one!), but at least they would cut off further funding for it. 


March 21, 2007 Posted by | Iraq, U.S. politics | 5 Comments