Finally the Democratic politicians "get it". They will still attempt to throw every roadblock they can find up to ensure we lose instead of triumph, but they understand that they will get nowhere in the Senate and are shifting their strategy.
What remains of the Congressional debate over the war in Iraq moves to the House this week.
With the Senate unable to break its stalemate over war policy, House Democrats plan to bring up a series of proposals that focus on planning, military contractors and oversight instead of trying to force a withdrawal of troops.
The legislative lineup is a recognition that the effort to directly challenge President Bush with a bill that orders a troop pullout is on hold for now and perhaps into 2008. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she had no choice but to shift course after the Senate rejected what appeared to be the best Democratic chance to influence troop levels – a measure requiring members of the military to get more time at home before returning to Iraq.
“When the senators decided that they could not even support an initiative for the readiness of our troops — 15 months, same time in theater, same time at home — then it spoke very eloquently to the fact that we in the House cannot confine our aspirations for changing the direction in Iraq to what might be possible today in the United States Senate,” she told reporters Friday.
So they will "insist" on measures to pretend they are doing something, measures that the Pentagon already has in place.
First up for the Democrats is a measure by Democratic Representatives Neal Abercrombie of Hawaii and John Tanner of Tennessee that would require the Pentagon to develop a plan for troop withdrawal. Even Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader and a steadfast supporter of the war, indicated he could endorse that approach.(Addition) That legislation passed the House 377-46, although no mandate for withdrawal, just update reports on "plans for withdrawal " from the Pentagon. (Roll call found here)
“I would be shocked if the Pentagon didn’t already have this plan sitting on the shelf,” Mr. Boehner said. “That’s what they do over at the Pentagon; they plan for every kind of contingency known to man.”
Of course some opposed the bill because it did nothing more than require reports:
House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican who backed the bill, said contingency planning was a core function of the Pentagon, and the bill just expressed the wish that it continue "standard operating procedure."
Democrats who opposed the bill also said it had little real effect. Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York said it did nothing to get the approximately 165,000 U.S. soldiers out of Iraq, but instead required reports.
The Senate passed the Defense Authorization last night, 92-3 with 5 not voting. (Roll call here)
The next step is the Pentagon policy measure then the annual Pentagon spending bill.
You can find their floor schedule at the senate.gov website, right side.
(The Appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008 can be found at this link)
The Senate is scheduled to finish up a Pentagon policy measure today and go on to the annual Pentagon spending bill though Democrats have indicated they do not intend to use it as a platform for debate over the war. Depending on what progress the Senate makes on that bill, it could take up a second spending measure before taking a weeklong break.
This is in no way over and they will still try every trick possible to force surrender as we are seeing progress, to make the job harder on our military, but they may, finally, understand that as long as General Petraeus, our troops and the Iraqi security forces are making progress and it is being seen on a weekly basis and as long as death tolls continue to decline and as long as we are beating al-Qaeda back, Republicans in the Senate are not going to allow the Democratic politicians to force defeat down our throats.
(Updates were added to this post)