As Public Opinion Slips, Dems Proceed More CautiouslyMarch 20, 2007 - by Donny Shaw
A new poll, indicating that the Democratic Congress’ job approval is slipping, may be responsible for Democratic party Progressives and House Democratic Leaders changing their tunes.
>In a March 11-14, 2007, national poll — 28% of Americans approve of the job being done by Congress and 64% disapprove. This marks a substantial change from January and February, with approval down nine points and disapproval up nine points.
The report goes on to suggest that Iraq is the likely reason:
>It is difficult to pinpoint precisely what is behind the drop off in optimism about Congress among Democrats. One possibility is that Democrats are disappointed that their party has been unable to do anything substantive about the Iraq war — the dominant issue in last November’s midterm elections.
The poll results were released this morning. Later in the day, CQ reported that the Democratic Leadership in the House may postpone the vote on the supplemental until they are sure they have the 218 votes that are needed for it to pass.
>House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer [pictured at right] acknowledged today that the legislation still lacks sufficient support for passage.
>As a result, the vote could be postponed, Hoyer said.
>“If you were to ask me if we have 218 people that I know are definite ‘yeses’ right this minute, the answer to that is no,” said Hoyer, D-Md. “If you ask me if I think we’ll have 218 on this bill when we call it up for a vote the answer to that is yes. If you ask me do if I think we’ll need to delay it, I hope the answer to that is no and I believe it’s no.”
Bringing the bill to a vote and failing to find enough support among House Democrats to pass it would only further damage the image of Congressional Democrats. It will not look good for the party to show itself fractured to the point where the only thing they can do is pass a clean bill to fund the war indefinitely. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has made her intention to pass a clean bill if the current proposal fails, abundantly clear. A clean bill would easily find enough support from Republicans and quite a few conservative Blue Dog Democrats to pass the House.
Meanwhile, Chris Bowers of MyDD is also changing his tune on the supplemental. Bowers has slowly been realizing that the current bill may be the best that Democrat’s can do for now, but his update today sounds much more like a plea for Progressives to support the bill:
>…the politics of the supplemental fight, which will continue for some time even after the House votes on this bill, now make it clear that it is extremely important progressives do not join with Republicans in order to defeat this legislation at this time.
>The simple fact is that if this bill is defeated in the House, then there will be another—weaker—funding bill. The strategy that many in the anti-war community are pushing, to defeat any new Iraq funding bill in at least one branch of Congress, has no hope of success at the current point in time. It might be successful at one point, but not right now. If this bill is defeated in the House then, as Rep. George Miller has made it quite clear, another bill, without any strings attached, will come up for a vote. Even if Miller did not make that clear, it should be fairly obvious. While a dozen or so progressives are currently the main swing votes on whether or not this bill passes, the overwhelming majority of people who will vote against the bill will be Republicans. Two hundred Republicans, a handful of Blue Dogs, and a dozen progressives does not equal a progressive majority. The debate between this bill, and a stronger bill, is unfortunately currently over on Capitol Hill when it comes to the supplemental. As inadequate as this legislation might seem when it comes to ending the war, right now, it is either this bill, or something even weaker.
However, not all Progressives agree with Bowers “pragmatism” when it comes to dealing with the supplemental. Talk Left writes that Bowers “builds his house of cards argument on assumptions that are demonstrably false.”
All of the disagreements and delays among Democrats are helping House Republicans regain their footing. They’ll “stay nearly in lock step,” opposing the supplemental nearly unanimously.