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Dems Plan to Keep Funds Clean, But Wield a Short Leash

May 8, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The new plan for Iraq, as endorsed by the Democratic leadership in the House, does not include a timetable for troop withdrawal. Instead, Democrats plan to provide funding while keeping some control over the war by dishing out the funds in two-month chunks. On Thursday or Friday, the House will vote to make $42.8 billion immediately available for defense funds and to set aside $52.8 billion for possible release in July. The President will have to report to Congress at that time as to whether or not progress has been made, and Congress will in turn decide whether or not to release the rest of the funds.

Since, in theory at least, this plan could be reused over and over, indefinitely keeping the war alive, the new plan does not warrant a name such as the Republican-coined “slow bleed.” Democrats have given their new plan a new name: the short leash.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R, OH), as expected, does not support the Democrats’ new plan. In a statement, he said that it treats U.S. troops like “children who are getting a monthly allowance.” A blogger at DailyKos, MissLaura, responded, “No, John, it’s not the men and women in uniform who need to be treated like children. It’s George W. Bush.” Boehner took the “short leash” plan into some creepy territory here; it’s probably best to stick with pet-owner analogies for now.

The Bush administration also did the expected thing and came out against the short leash. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, speaking for the entity that would bear the collar, offered his criticism of the plan. “We think it’s bad management,” Snow said. “It’s kind of a start-and-stop measure. It denies commanders and forces the kind of predictability they need to be able to plan effectively.” So far, there has been no mention of a presidential veto.

The Democratic leadership in the Senate has yet to endorse the plan. “Nothing has been ruled out, nothing has been ruled in, as far as I’m concerned,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV) on Tuesday. MItch McConnell (R, KY), the Minority Leader, was more clear about the bill’s prospects among senate Republicans. He set their level of enthusiasm for the plan at “minimal to zero.” The Washington Post is predicting that senate Democrats will not come around to the plan:

>The Senate is not expected to take the same short-term funding approach [as the House], but it is likely to make political benchmarks the centerpiece of its own legislation, with consequences if they are not met.

The Crypt has more details about the plan, such as how the additional domestic spending from the vetoed bill will be dealt with.

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