Capitol Hillbillies

Time to set a date for withdrawal

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Iraq demonstrations walk on U.S. flag (AP)

By narrow margins, both the House and the Senate have voted to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, a so-called “date certain.” If a compromise bill reaches the president’s desk, he will veto it, relying on the argument that letting enemy forces know when we’re leaving will encourage them and provide certain strategic advantages. Perhaps.

The mouth that roared (and lied)

By FREDERIC J. FROMMER

040707obey.jpgIn putting together the House’s war spending bill, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (left) gave false information to fellow Democrats, yelled at anti-war protesters and slammed The Washington Post.

“I didn’t come here to win any charm-school award,” the cantankerous Wisconsin Democrat said in an interview.

McCain admits blowing Baghdad photo op

U.S. Senator John McCain said in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday he misspoke in his recent upbeat comments about security in Baghdad, where he traveled under heavy military protection.

The Arizona senator, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, maintains progress has been made in the U.S.-led war in Iraq, according to comments to be aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Excerpts were released on Friday.

Playing the influence game

By TOM RAUM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi engages Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus and passes him a peace message from Israel. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad frees 15 British captives, defusing a crisis with Britain. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah moves to take the lead in pressing for Mideast peace.

The missing thread in these international developments? President Bush.

Love of pets will drive new federal action

By LISA HOFFMAN

Look for America’s devotion to its 130 million dogs and cats to push the federal government to create the first official national network to collect information from veterinarians and disseminate crucial data on pet food and health.

The ongoing pet-food emergency has demonstrated how anemic the Food and Drug Administration’s monitoring of the animal food supply has been. No one can say how many pets have died or been sickened by the suspect food, with estimates ranging from 16 to as many as 3,000 deaths.

Bush, Dems rachet up war rhetoric

By ANDREW TAYLOR

It’s a given that President Bush will veto the big Iraq money bill that sets a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops. The question is whether he’ll veto the next version if it contains what he calls "excessive and extraneous" non-war spending.

Bush is talking tough, as are Democrats on Capitol Hill. But there are signs that both sides want to avoid a second veto.

Dems want review of Bush’s recess appointment

By ANNE FLAHERTY

Democrats called for an investigation Thursday into whether President Bush acted illegally in appointing Sam Fox ambassador to Belgium.

A day earlier, Bush named Republican fundraiser Fox to the post as a recess appointment — a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress, where Democrats had derailed his nomination.

Democrats reject military budget cuts

By ANDREW TAYLOR

Just hours after floating the idea of cutting $20 billion from President Bush’s $142 billion request for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad was overruled by fellow Democrats Thursday.

“It’s nothing that any of us are considering,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters.

Skepticism over Bush’s fuel saving plan

By JOHN CRAWLEY

Influential members of Congress expressed doubt on Wednesday about the White House goal of raising auto fuel efficiency by 4 percent next decade, convinced the target would harm U.S. manufacturers.

Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, suggested change is inevitable but he is not sold on the White House approach for saving 8.5 billions of gasoline by 2017.