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Leadership Looking Ahead to Another War Funding Battle

April 5, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

What’s going to happen once the President vetoes the war funding bill that Congress approved last week? Basically, the Democratic leadership (pictured at right), in both the House and the Senate, are going to have to write a new version of the bill and go through the same nerve-wracking process that they went through last time — wrangling support from less-than-satisfied lawmakers, vote by vote. Paul Kane, at the Capitol Briefing blog, has some insights into what they will be up against this time around:

>One Senate GOP aide, asking for anonymity to talk internal caucus strategy, said Reid [the Senate Majority Leader]would likely get plenty of votes from Republicans so long as the withdrawal date language is stripped from the bill. Republicans have no strong objection to much of the language calling for clear benchmarks of progress by the Iraqi government, so those could probably stay in the final bill.
>Bush has threatened to veto both the House and Senate versions of the supplemental also because about one-sixth of the price tag comes from congressional add-ons not related to the war in Iraq. But the GOP aide suggested that few Senate Republicans would vote against primarily military funding because of additional spending items. “Sustaining a pork veto is little more difficult,” the aide said.
>Still, Pelosi [the Speaker of the House] would be in a difficult position on the House side, as several dozen anti-war members of her caucus have previously threatened to vote against the bill. In the end, Pelosi had just 14 ‘no’ votes from her side of the aisle, but that number could double or triple if there is no withdrawal language in the final version of the supplemental that is considered next month after Bush’s veto.

So, according to the anonymous GOP aides, benchmarks and unrelated domestic spending can stay in the bills. That will help attract some moderate and slightly-left-leaning Democrats. Still, Pelosi (D-CA) is going to have to do a lot of bargaining if she wants to find 218 votes to pass this bill again. Last time, a lot of liberal Democrats, who strongly oppose the war, decided to vote for the bill only at last second. They figured that it was the best they were likely to get, and it did actually put an end date on the war. Without an end date, the 14 “no” votes from last time may more than “double or triple,” as Kane suggests. It would not be suprising if only a few lawmakers from the 81-member Out Of Iraq caucus defected from the caucus and voted with Pelosi’s hypothetical, new bill. Rejecting the bill, cutting off funds, and effectively ending the war that way is still an option, after all.

Negotiations will be much easier for Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Senate. There were no liberal defectors voting against the bill last time. And if there are some this time, they will be easily offset by the amount of Repubilcans that will vote for the funding bill without an end date. Regardless of how easily it passes in the Senate, if the funding bill does not pass in both chambers of Congress, it will not be sent to the President to be signed into law and funding for U.S. troops would run dry — a situation that most Democrats want to avoid.

If you get a chance, read the three most recent posts on the <a href=
“”target="_blank">Capitol Briefing
blog. Kane outlines, in three posts, the process of compromise between the House and Senate bills, the timeline for the Presidential veto, and the negotiations for the funding bill that will follow.

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