Capitol Hillbillies

The stage is set

Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday sent Iraq legislation setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals to President Bush and a certain veto.

On the fourth anniversary of the president’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Bush “has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. A change of course is needed.”

Is compromise possible?

President Bush and congressional Democrats don’t agree about much when it comes to the Iraq war, but one of the areas where they disagree the least is the need to measure the Baghdad government’s progress.

That makes the issue ripe for negotiation in an evolving veto struggle over the war, even though the administration and its critics are fiercely at odds when it comes to how — and whether — to enforce these so-called benchmarks for self-defense and democracy in Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein era.

A bitter debate turns increasingly nasty

Any pretense of civility vanished long ago in the bitter debate over funding of President George W. Bush’s failed Iraq war.

With both sides of the issue firmly entrenched, Capitol Hill insiders see little chance for compromise and progress as the funding bill faces a certain veto from Bush today because it sets a timetable for withdrawal of troops.

Minimum wage hike stalled by Iraq standoff

Increasing the minimum wage should be easy for a Congress controlled by Democrats, especially with President Bush’s pledge of support.

But a $2.10 boost for America’s lowest-paid workers is again being delayed, this time in a tussle over whether to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

The non-stop campaign

042707murphy.jpgRep. Patrick Murphy hasn’t let the fact that he was elected to Congress in November put a stop to his campaigning.

Nearly every Monday since he took office in January, the 33-year-old freshman Democrat and Iraq war veteran has headed out to suburban Philadelphia train stations at dawn to greet voters. After that, he gets into his car for the three-hour drive to Capitol Hill.

“You don’t win until you win re-election,” Murphy said one recent morning as he introduced himself to bleary-eyed commuters, many of whom congratulated him on his election victory. “The first one’s to get your foot in the door.”

Senate passes Iraq timetable

In a bold wartime challenge to President Bush, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted Thursday to begin withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later. The White House dismissed the legislation as "dead before arrival."

Iraq bill headed for a certain veto

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (AP)

Congress will send President George W. Bush an Iraq war spending bill next week that includes a withdrawal timeline. Bush will veto the bill and send it back to the Hill.

Another round of posturing on Capitol Hill while more American troops die and a deadly war continues in a far away land.