Dems offer spin to explain loss to Bush

Sen. Hillary Clinton (AP)Democrats may have lost the first round with President Bush on ending the war in Iraq since taking over Congress in January, but they say their fight has just begun.

In the months ahead, lawmakers will vote repeatedly on whether U.S. troops should stay and whether Bush has the authority to continue the war. The Democratic strategy is intended to ratchet up pressure on the president, as well as on moderate Republicans who have grown tired of defending Bush administration policy in a deeply unpopular war.

"I feel a direction change in the air," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House panel that oversees military funding.

Democrats looked to the upcoming votes after losing a bruising battle with Bush on an emergency war spending bill. Lacking the two-thirds majority needed to overcome another presidential veto, Democrats dropped from the legislation a provision ordering troops home from Iraq beginning this fall.

Congress passed the revised $120 billion spending bill on Thursday, providing $95 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September. The House voted 280-142 to pass the bill, followed by a 80-14 vote in the Senate.

Democratic leaders said they hoped to ready the bill for Bush's signature by this Memorial Day weekend.

Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama both voted against the bill.

"I fully support our troops" but the measure "fails to compel the president to give our troops a new strategy in Iraq," said Clinton, D-N.Y.

"Enough is enough," Obama, an Illinois senator, declared, adding that Bush should not get "a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path."

Their votes continued a shift in position for the two presidential hopefuls, both of whom began the year shunning a deadline for a troop withdrawal.

Thursday's legislative action capped weeks of negotiations with the White House, which agreed to accept some $17 billion more than Bush had requested as long as there were no restrictions on the military campaign.

"If all funding bills are going to be this partisan and contentious, it will be a very long year," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said.

Democrats said they were successful in moving the war debate forward and would try again when Congress takes up spending bills for the 2008 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

"This debate will go on," vowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"Senate Democrats will not stop our efforts to change the course of this war until either enough Republicans join with us to reject President Bush's failed policy or we get a new president," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.

The Senate will go first when it considers a defense policy bill authorizing more than $600 billion in military spending. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, plans to offer an amendment that would order troop withdrawals to begin within 120 days.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said he would press to repeal the 2002 resolution authorizing combat in Iraq.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said Thursday that if the security situation in Iraq does not improve by mid-July, the president should consider adopting a new strategy there.

"It seems to me it's time for them (Iraqi troops) to … step up," said Warner, R-Va.

The most critical votes on the war are likely to be cast in September when the House and Senate debate war funding for 2008. The House plans to consider one measure that would end combat by July 2008 and another intended to repeal Bush's authority to wage war in Iraq.

The September votes likely will come after Iraq war commander Gen. David Petraeus tells Congress whether Bush's troop buildup plan is working. Also due by September is an independent assessment of progress made by the Iraqi government.

"Those of us who oppose this war will be back again and again and again and again until this war has ended," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

The U.S. has spent more than $300 billion on Iraq military operations so far, according to the congressional Government Accountability Office.


  1. almandine

    “The Democratic strategy is intended to ratchet up pressure on the president, as well as on moderate Republicans who have grown tired of defending Bush administration policy in a deeply unpopular war.”

    My ass…

    silence is complicity

  2. JudyB

    It is time for Iraq to step it up alright and its also time for the president to back off, but most of all for the voting public to ratchet up their outcries againt this war. Lets face it folks,Iraq is not going to anything more as long as we’ll do it for them and Bush will never back off…remember he’s the imperial “Decider” BUT… Voters across the land can & should hold MASSIVE protests in every major city this summer and make their voices heard just like was done with the Viet Nam war. Every voter should write their Congressional representives demanding their vote to end the war or lose your vote. Massive nation wide protests, bombardment of letters to Congress, millions valid signatures on petitions, and letters to every source of the news media.. may just be the answer to change things. It must be done This summer, well planned and taken on by a an already established popular organization (I don’t care which one). I as a voter feel like my vote and my voice means nothing..but if there are enough who think & feel like me it MIGHT work!

  3. Carl Nemo

    I thought I’d supply folks links to both the House and Senate concerning their recent vote and concurrence by the U.S. Senate to continue to bleed this nation white by pouring our precious resources down this Iraqi “rathole” for the benfit of the MIC/”oil patch” cabal. I recommend folks should fetch the links below, then copy the results and start making your shortlist of those that voted to continue this debacle. Unequivocally they need to get the ol’ seaboot over the side come November 2008 at least those that up in that election cycle. “We the People” can take care of the rest of them when they come due.

    My recommendation in “08” is to vote for anyone, other than those that are currently entrenched in the House and the Senate, regardless of the “pulled pork” sandwiches they’ve sent home courtesy of the U.S. Treausry “deli”. We need to give them only one term no matter how well they seem to do because “incumbency” is killing this nation. The longer they stay in D.C. the more corrupt and stale they become.

    I’ll also provide the link so folks can sign up for their “Vote Watch” function which is found at the bottom of the page. They will send you updates via email as to how your reps are voting. Keep track of them and if they show they are voting their own agenda against the will of the people and the welfare of the U.S., then dump them when they come up for re-election.

    As all gardeners know we turn the soil over in the Spring and then give it a good tilling, this should be the same with Congress. The longer it stays “untilled”, it becomes compacted, and “sour”, so in IMHO they deserve only a single term. We should do the same with the Presidency too. Never, two terms for any of them. They get one shot at the Presidency then out…! We can create our own defacto term limits by our voting habits. After we do this for about 10 years or so, it will seem that America is witnessing a re-birth in it’s ideals and what once made this nation great.

    People best wake up and chuck partisanship because it’s brought us nothing but destruction as a nation to this point in time. By constantly turning them over we will insure we always have best possible reps in D.C. during any election cycle. Crooks won’t participate in single terms to D.C.! It’s only attractive if they know they can stay a long time in order to enrich themselves.

    Carl Nemo **==
    House Vote roll call

    Senate Vote roll call

  4. lackeylocal

    Plain & Simple. They caved in. No matter how you look at and throw darts at it. It was nothing but THEATER. I wouldn’t hold my breathe for the next vote to be any different. But we will remember when we cast our votes in November’08.

  5. Wayne K Dolik

    Today I agree with some very good advice by JudyB, in today’s first post on this good story about the Democratic Parties cave in to the Administration. Lets get active fellow Citizens and continue to speak out. Some of our leaders are downright traitors to our system of checks and balances and our Constitution.

    Let me lay out my opinion in regard to the mess we all find our Country in. Firstly, our traditional two party system is broke. Our two parties are composed of neo-liberals and neo-cons. There is not one bit of difference between them. They are complicit in all acts.
    Money interests called the shadow government control them wholly. In short, our entire system has become “mobbed up”.

    If you are a Republican, please remember the words of Eisenhower about the Military Industrial Complex. This was a stern warning to all Americans about the potential danger of the relationship between our Military, our Defense Industry and Government and Commercial interests. 911 was the event that facilitated the rise of the MIC and the loss of our individual rights. Regretfully, I fear we have lost our free press through control and consolidation.

    What would real leaders in Congress do you ask? First, they would hold hearings with the heads of “the free press” and investigate any and all agendas that are afoot. Second, they would undue all of the garbage legislation the 109th Congress put into law, which includes Habeas Corpus, torture, The Patriot Act, signing statements and the new Martial law provision. Impeachment would surely be on the table. And, how about a real 911 investigation and not another Congressional cover up. And, we need a healthy conversation about hi-tec data mining and privacy rights forthwith. Real leaders in Congress would end the war in Iraq. A real Congress would conduct investigations into war profiting. I just proved that we don’t have real leaders in Congress, case closed.

    I agree with JudyB. We need to think for ourselves. We need to act responsibly as owners of this once great Democratic Republic. My Republican friends need to remember the principals that the Republican Party was once based upon. They need to reject the leaders who are pushing the new world order and return to traditional conservatism. They need to show the bullies the door and elect honest politicians of traditional conservative values. Notions of smaller government and a return to Constitutional loyalty are certainly long held Republican values. Republicans therefore need to run the neo-cons out of the Republican Party period.

    Democrats would be well served by running the neo-liberals out of the Democratic Party. Forget about giving your money to the democratic machines because they are to mobbed up with neo-liberals. Push for more progressive democrats and fund them yourself. If more progressives won last November we wouldn’t be in the mess were in today. 15 close Democratic races were lost by progressive democrats by less than 3%, last November, and most of these Democrats were against the Iraq war.

  6. Joe Sedlak

    Once the vote counting was just about complete it was safe for Clinton and Obamma to cast their votes. What courage! Why didn’t they have the guts to vote when their name was called? Must we be treated to politics rather than conviction all the time? With this kind of leadership we are in real trouble!

    Why haven’t we heard from them while all the bargaining was going on – or are they above it?

    Everyone knew that the democrats would throw in the towel as they rushed to the airports for their Memorial Day holiday. Why not express themselves earlier and maybe encourage a few more votes?

    Wimp time!

    Let’s hope that the voters nail them while they are home resting from their exhaustive work on behalf of the troops!