Pelosi and Reid Stumble Back To Point A
AP photo today of an unfortunately apt metaphor from the "negotiations"
The deal is done; the funding bill will have no redeployment timeline. Even the Iraqi performance benchmarks can be waived by Bush. In order to get his four months of funding through the remainder of the fiscal year, all Bush has to do is give Congress a progress report on July 15th and September 15th.
Despite the concession, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters that the legislation would be the first war-funding bill sent to Bush since the U.S. invasion of Iraq "where he won't get a blank check."
Reid and other Democrats pointed to a provision that would set standards for the Iraqi government in developing a more democratic society. U.S. reconstruction aid would be conditioned on progress toward meeting the goals, but Bush would have authority to order the money to be spent regardless of how the government in Baghdad performed.
And Mitch McConnell was allowed to chortle once again about “surrender dates”, showing that the weeks of effort by the Democrats had left no bruises.
"I'm optimistic that we will achieve the following: a full four-month funding bill without surrender dates. I think there's a good chance of that," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Both Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer stated the obvious today: that the Democrats don't have a veto-proof majority in either house. Yeah, so? You knew this back in February, as did most everyone else. It was your job and everyone else in the Democratic leadership to fashion a strategy that made the GOP pay a price for rubber-stamping Bush's surge while still pushing your agenda. And you and your Beltway consultants failed. So stop your whining and get back to the drawing board.
McConnell knows that Reid holds all the cards when the 2008 defense budget debate begins in the fall, but by then Bush will have nearly 100,000 combat and 200,000 total troops in the theater, and the Pentagon will be far along in its planning to permanently station thousands in Iraq for decades.
Instead of shifting the burden onto the GOP leadership for finding the votes for a “no-strings” funding bill back in February, and moving ahead with the Democrats’ domestic agenda, Reid and Pelosi got sucked into a futile battle to change course without the numbers or messaging to force such a change. Now, they both will face a hostile Democratic base over the summer while the GOP leadership quietly works towards a face-saving break with Bush late this year. And all the Democrats have to show for it are declining poll numbers, just like Bush.