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Democrats Finally Unite To Pass A Binding Bill For Iraq

March 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

In case you missed it, the war supplemental passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 218-212 today. The bill provides $124.1 billion, mostly for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while setting benchmarks for the Iraqi government and a timeline for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Only two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for the bill. When the House voted in mid-February on a non-binding resolution disapproving of President Bush’s surge plan, 17 Republicans voted for it. Having cast that vote against the surge and then voting today against tying the president’s hands, 15 Republicans are now in the politically enviable position of having spoken out, while at the same time respecting presidential authority. This position should be helpful in holding their seats in the 2008 elections.

But the real success story today is about Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Democratic caucus. Until late last night, nobody knew if the supplemental had the 218 votes needed to pass. Pelsoi and the Democratic leadership, particularly Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) fought hard for this bill in the face of adversity that, at some points, seemed insurmountable. Rumors of a divided Democratic party were rampant and the public’s approval of their work in Congress was way down. But the leadership believed in the bill and pressed forward. Today it was proven that they were right on with this bill — it had struck the perfect balance to hold together progressive and conservative House Democrats, while doing the most it could to put an end to the Iraq war.

Ultimately, several progressive Democrats who were threatening to block the bill because it didn’t do enough to end the war, found themselves choosing to set aside their personal ideals and vote for what they see as the greater good presented by the bill. “While I cannot betray my conscience, I cannot stand in the way of passing a measure that puts a concrete end date on this unnecessary war,” said Barbara Lee (D-CA), a co-founder of the Out-of-Iraq Caucus.

The bill will now have to be reconciled with the corresponding Senate bill (if it passes) before it is given to the President, who has repeatedly vowed to veto it.

The AP has a convenient rundown of how the House and Senate bills compare.

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