Thursday, February 01, 2007

United they stand… wait, what?

There is something strange going on in Washington DC right now… Democrats and republicans are joining forces against a common foe and his future plans.

No, not bin Laden… though that would make sense…

No… not the “dangerous” people at ‘Adult Swim’ and their viral-marketing campaign gone awry…

The foe is “President” Bush (or ‘Shrub’ as the late Molly Ivins dubbed him – we’ll miss you Molly!)… and the future plans are his 21,000 plus escalation of troop levels in Iraq.

It seems republican and Democratic opponents of Herr Bush's troop-buildup plan have joined forces and are now standing united behind a nonbinding resolution that has the broadest bipartisan backing ever seen in recent memory.

Essentially, there were two “major” anti-surge bills in the Senate, one sponsored by Joe “Foot in Mouth” Biden, Carl Levin (D-MI) and Chuck Hagel, the other by John Warner (R-VA).

Now the two have been reconciled, retooled and repackaged into one bill that is reaping broad bi-partisan support that would express the Senate's opposition to the troop increase but at the same time would vow to protect troop funding.

(It should also be noted that House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is going to introduce a similar bill in the House, which should improve its chances of passage)

Each bill had broad support within its own party (the original Democratic language was popular with Dems but had little or no appeal among Republicans) but it was always the Warner/gop-backed proposal that drew bi-partisan support from its inception, making it the best one to adapt to both sides.

The only problem is that it’s unclear if all of the co-sponsoring Senators on the original resolutions from Biden et al, and Warner et al, are on board.

And it’s already known that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), who has proposed cutting off funding for the Iraq War in order to force the president to begin a withdrawal, has stated that this non-binding resolution “weak” and has indicated that he would not support it.

The Warner and Biden resolutions reached almost identical conclusions, in that they opposed the president's deployment of 21,500 additional troops and call for existing troops to be reassigned to guard Iraq's borders, combat terrorism and train Iraqi security forces. Both measures also called for regional diplomacy to draw Iraq's neighbors into a peace process.

The primary difference is that the Warner bill did not have language stating that the escalation is against the national interests of the United States, and neither will the compromise bill. Additionally, Warner has added language to his bill that specifically opposes cutting troop funding.

This next week is shaping up to be a busy week for the Senate in regards to the war in Iraq as there are a plethora of resolutions regarding the Iraq war coming before the Senate in the next week or so,

  • The McCain/Graham resolution, a non-binding resolution supporting the escalation but setting a few benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet.
  • The John Cornyn resolution, which fully supports the President's actions but asks for "substantial progress" to be made, with a goal of handing over control of Iraq by November 2007
  • The John Isakson resolution stating that the Congress shall not cut funding to the Iraq war
  • The Chris Dodd resolution, which would require Congressional approval if troop levels exceed what they are today in Iraq, but would not limit funding for the war.
  • The Russ Feingold resolution, which would end funding for the war in Iraq in six months
  • The Barack Obama resolution, which would not cut funding to the military, but require the troops to leave in early 2008

Out of all of these, it’s the revamped Warner bill that has the most bi-partisan support and also has the best chance of passing. The problem is that it doesn’t look as though (to me at least) that this bill will do enough,… it’s also not a sure thing that this bill will even pass. But maybe… just maybe, if this resolution does pass, it will make escalation and continuation of the war without benchmarks and timetables less palatable by we the people and our Congressional representatives.

We can only hope

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