Democrats rethink Iraq funding strategy


House Democratic leaders are developing an anti-war proposal that wouldn’t cut off money for U.S. troops in Iraq while requiring President Bush to acknowledge problems with an overburdened military.

The plan could draw broad bipartisan support but was expected to be a tough sell to members who said they don’t think it goes far enough to assuage voters angered by the four-year war.

Bush “hasn’t to date done anything we’ve asked him to do, so why we would think he would do anything in the future is beyond me,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., one of a group of liberal Democrats pushing for an immediate end to the war.

Democratic protests to the war grew louder in January after they took control of Congress and Bush announced that he planned to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq. Earlier this month, House Democrats pushed through a nonbinding resolution opposing the troop buildup.

Since then, Democrats have been trying to decide what to do next. Some worried that a plan by Rep. John Murtha to restrict funding for the war would go too far. Murtha, D-Pa., is extending his support to the revised proposal.

The tactic is more likely to embarrass Bush politically than force his hand on the war. He would have to sign repeated waivers for units and report to Congress those units with equipment shortfalls and other problems.

In the Senate, a group of senior Democrats want to repeal the 2002 measure authorizing the war and write a new resolution restricting the mission and ordering troop withdrawals to begin by this summer. But Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Iraq will have to wait until the Senate finishes work to improve homeland security.

“That would mean we would hold off the Iraq legislation for a matter of days, not weeks,” he said.

The House Democrats’ plan brought a sharp response from Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“If this is the Democrats’ last ditch effort to appease the ultraliberal wing of their party while appearing to support the troops at the same time, I don’t think they are going to convince either one of any commitment whatsoever,” Kennedy said. “This appears to be political posturing at its worst and yet another attempt to undermine the mission of our troops in harm’s way. The American people are going to see right through it.”

As Democrats met behind closed doors to discuss their options Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration would talk to leaders from Iran and Syria on stabilizing Iraq.

Rice announced U.S. support for the Iraq meeting, to be held in Baghdad next month, at a Senate hearing in which Democrats pressed her and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to explain what progress is being made in the Baghdad security crackdown and how soon U.S. troops will be coming home.

The decision to engage Iran and Syria on the war in Iraq is a major departure for U.S. policy. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group in December recommended U.S. dialogue with Iran and Syria, but until now the administration has resisted that course.

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Republican co-chairman of the panel, welcomed the shift in a speech Tuesday night. But he went further, urging the administration to include Syria in Mideast peacemaking with Israel and the Palestinians.

Dennis Ross, a former U.S. Middle East negotiator, noted that Rice and other officials had taken pains to stress that the talks were an Iraqi initiative, which he said the administration might be using as cover to downplay suggestions of a major policy shift.

“This is a way for the administration to have discussions under a different umbrella but in a way in which they can say that they are not changing course,” he said.

The administration said its decision to take part in the Iraq conference did not represent a change of heart, although the White House has accused both Iran and Syria of deadly meddling in the war.

“We’ve always been inclined to participate in an Iraqi-led conference,” White House counselor Dan Bartlett said.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. SEAL

    I think all of the ranting about the democrats not doing what so many people expected them to do is unrealistic disappointment. In the first place, only about 20% of the voters who voted for democrats actually voted FOR democrats. The rest voted against the republicans. They all hoped the democrats would do something right. But the primary mission was to stop the republicans. That has been accomplished.

    However, the 20%, the militant so-called liberals, voted to stop Bush and his war and his establihment of imperialism by destroying the US Constitution. They are the ones who realize/understand what the neoconartists have done. Their motivation is fear. But their expectations are unrealistic. Fantasy.

    Unlike the republicans, the democratic party never has been regimented. They have always been fragmented groups and divergent in their ideas, plans, and goals. Even if they had a overwhelming majority in both houses they would still be arguing endlessly about what to do and how to go about it. The reason the republicans were able to do so much damage when they had clear majority was because they were standing shoulder to shoulder regardless of personal opinions. They obeyed the leaders. Democrats will never do that.

    In the first place, the democrats are not in a position to be able to stop Bushco completely. They don’t have the needed votes in the senate. The only way Bushco could be stopped is if they stomp squarely on their dicks and stop themselves. They would have to commit some act that would be so dastardly injurious to the nation or events would have to occur within the course they are on that would show them to be the collossal failure that they are that a sufficient portion of those republican senators would have no choice but to turn against them. I think there is about a 30-40% chance of that happening. If it doesn’t, the best the democrats can do is to continue to embarass and harass and gain as much publicity as possible to minimize the damage until the next election. They will become more effective as time goes on. Bush will continue to slide. His failures will become more obvious to those who don’t pay attention the way we do. The exposure has already begun. Some, perhaps enough, of those repugnants will jump ship in another year as a matter of self presevation in 2008. Of course, that will be too little-too late but it will be something better than nothing. Barring Bush doing something crazy (which is the fear), he should be the lamest of ducks in his final year.

    My point is that no one should be ranting about how disappointed they are in the democrats because the expectation that they would be able to shut this gang of criminals down and/or remove them is totally unrealistic.