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Dems Plan to Fund the War Until September

May 7, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Washington Post this morning is reporting that, despite some reservation in the Senate, the House leadership is planning to move forward with the plan to provide war funding in two two-month chunks:

>House Democratic leaders are coming together around legislation that would fund the war through September but would withhold more than half of those funds until July, when Bush would have to report on the Iraqi government’s progress toward benchmarks such as quelling sectarian violence, disarming militias and sharing oil revenue equitably. Congress would then have to vote in late July to release the remaining funds.
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>The new House proposal would immediately provide about $43 billion of the $95.5 billion the administration says it needs to keep the war going through Sept. 30. That infusion would come with language establishing benchmarks of success for the Iraqi government, and it is likely to include tougher standards for resting, training and equipping troops. Binding timelines for troop withdrawals would be dropped to try to win Republican support and avoid a second veto.

A decision as to what to do next will have to be made again by Congress in September. That is when the second chunk of this funding will run out, and it is also when Congress will be finishing up appropriations bills, including one to fund the Department of Defense.

General David Petraeus has already told members of Congress that he will need until September to accurately evaluate what, if any, progress is being made with the surge. Kevin Drum, at The Washington Monthly, is guessing that Petraeus’s mind is already made up:

>When September rolls around Gen. David Petraeus is almost certain to report that things are tough but progress is being made on the ground. And he’ll have metrics of some kind to back him up. What else is he going to do, after all? You can almost write his script right now.

But, if taken at their word, Republicans will not be easily convinced. The Washington Post story suggests that some Republican lawmakers are prepared for September to be the end of the rope:

>"Many of my Republican colleagues have been promised they will get a straight story on the surge by September," said Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). “I won’t be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq at that point. That is very clear to me.”
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>"September is the key," said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds defense. “If we don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, September is going to be a very bleak month for this administration.”

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