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


  1. Nice! Thanks for the strategy briefing. I’ll call today!

    Comment by Kerry | March 21, 2007

  2. When you say “end the war” – what do you mean?

    Of the X number of troops in Iraq (I have no idea anymore since the number seems to keep increasing), how many must come home before the war is over?

    What is Barbara Lee’s amendment asking for? Immediate withdrawal of how many troops?

    You know, America votes, kicks out the Republicans, Democrats come into power in House and Senate, Bush acknowledges that the people have spoken and his response? A surge – an increase in troops.

    I don’t think Democrats will cut off funding due to the political consequences. But for the remainder of Bush’s term – I don’t see him embracing a timetable or withdrawing troops. Bush is predictable – he’s stubborn, not willing to rethink policy or compromise and always backs his people.

    We’re in a mess with no easy solution. But as a Democrat, we must elect a Democrat in 08. We can’t afford to have McCain swoop into office and frankly we can’t afford to have Hillary elected.

    My rant is over – I just finished watching Tony Snow’s press conference earlier concerning the Gonzales-Attorney scandal. For once, I’d just like to see this Administration be honest. Admit, when they screw up. Regardless of ones views, I can at least respect someone who admits to their wrongs.

    Comment by Big Daddy Weave | March 21, 2007

  3. I think they all have to come home, Aaron. No permanent bases, no “security forces” or “intelligence forces” that don’t count as combat troops, but can still fight, etc.

    Barbara Lee’s amendment asks for no new funding and phased withdrawal within 6 months.

    Pelosi & Co. (and you, apparently) are afraid of the political consequences of “cutting off funding” (which, in real life, is simply not approving NEW funding). But here’s the thing: If the polls are right, they should be more afraid of the consequences of approving new funding for the war. Look, Aaron, you know politics: The Democratic base wanted this war ended at least 2 years ago. If they get angry enough, they won’t vote. If the base stays home, the GOP wins. Further, if the Dems vote for new funds for war, they “buy” the war from Bush and the GOP can accuse them of inconsistent flip-flopping on the war–to disastrous effect.

    There will be political fallout no matter which way they go. So, they should do the right thing and force Bush to draw down troops. They can’t repeal authorization for the war–McConnell will see to that. But they can and should refuse all new funding.

    I agree that we need a pro-peace Democratic president (and that’s not Hillary).

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 21, 2007

  4. BTW, Aaron. I saw your former boss, Rep. John Lewis, bravely arguing against this bill and against any future funding for the war. Lewis has been consistently against the war–as consistent as Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich, and a few others. Good on ‘im. Lewis, a hero to both of us, has always put principle before expediency.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 21, 2007

  5. I’m not in favor of permanent bases, security forces, etc. – I’d like to completely leave immediately.

    The number one problem is that Democrats are not united on a strategy. I admit, they’re dragging their feet. Instead of spending so much time worrying about a non-binding resolution – they should have been uniting on ONE strategy for withdrawal. But they can’t or didn’t or whatever.

    I’d like to leave tomorrow. But dear God, I am scared of another Republican residing in that White House after Bush leaves. I read the conservatives and watch Fox News late at night. Going the Barbara Lee route is clearly the RIGHT thing to do – but I fear if we go the Lee route, the conservatives will blast us as anti-troops. Next thing you know, we lose another Presidential election because apparently Americans aren’t smart enough to see past the spin and fear tactics.

    You obviously think that cutting off the funds will translate into a Democratic victory in 08. Maybe? I don’t know. And you may be right, if we continue to fund – we’re essentially “buying” the war from Bush. When it comes to an exit strategy, I’m torn, confused, and frankly can’t stick with a decision. And you have to admit – for someone like myself who has grown up with the train-wreck that is the Bush Administration – supporting a specific strategy is a hard decision to make. I’m tired of being disappointed every 4 years.

    John Lewis is Mr. Consistency – indeed a principled man.

    His consistency serves our country much better than Democrats who can’t make up their mind. As a Young Democrat, it’s bad when our Democratic leadership can’t come together and put out one united message. Their inability to commit to one solution causes confusion for many. I do admit – I’m tired of hearing this – The war is wrong, we need to leave, but I won’t tell you exactly when we’re going to leave…

    Comment by Big Daddy Weave | March 21, 2007

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