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Iraq Battle Set For July

June 29, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

With immigration reform shelved for the forseeable future, Congress is planning to turn its attention back to Iraq. At a press conference this afternoon, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Harry Reid (D-NV) announced the next stage in their plan to end the Iraq war.

>Democratic leaders vowed Friday to keep up the pressure on President George W. Bush to end the Iraq war with more votes next month on withdrawing U.S. troops.
>House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would seek a vote on legislation instructing the Pentagon to begin pulling out U.S. troops within 120 days, similar to a provision Bush vetoed in the first version of a war spending bill Congress sent to him in May.
>A comparable provision also is expected to come to the floor of the Senate in July. So far this year, Democrats there have been unable to get the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles to proposals to start a pullout from Iraq.
>Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, is expected to introduce a troop withdrawal amendment to defense policy legislation the second week of July.
>Other options for amendments on the Senate legislation, which are still being reviewed, could include rewriting Congress’ 2002 war authorization, setting readiness standards for military units and cutting off all combat funds by April.

None of these plans are new. Lawmakers who oppose the war have been tossing these ideas around since at least February. Some of the proposals, such as a rewrite of the 2002 war authorization, haven’t actually been voted on before, while others, such as the proposal to cut off funding, have been voted on. The ones that haven’t yet made it to a vote have been considered too radical. The ones that did all fell well short of the 60 votes needed to pass cloture, a motion that allows the minority party (Republicans) to block a proposal from coming to an actual vote on passage.

But, the war is less popular among senators than it has ever been before. In an article on The Huffington Post yesterday, Arianna Huffington explained how wanting to end the war is becoming less and less a position held only by the “anti-war left.” She mentions three Republican senators — Dick Lugar, George Voinovich, and John Warner — who, in the past few weeks, have all come out with strong statements in favor of changing the course of action in Iraq. In May, all three of them voted against an amendment that would have cut off funding for the war.

None of the proposed plans will get enough votes to override a veto from President Bush. What all of them will do, however, is put each member of Congress on the record as either for or against the war. Every member of Congress has been forced on the record about Iraq before, but as time goes on and public support for the war continues to slip, the political implications of their positions become more potent. Those who are seen as steadfast blockers of ending the war in Iraq could face serious trouble when they are up for reelection.

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