The bill stands virtually no chance of being enacted. Amid recent reports of progress in Iraq, Bush, who is determined not to let Congress restrict how he conducts the war, has threatened a veto.After days of arm-twisting, the Democratic leadership could must only 218 votes, barely a majority of the entire House, a chamber controlled by Democrats. A pitiful showing at best.
Democrats know that but say that their efforts to limit the war since taking control of Congress in January are a political -- and, some say, moral -- necessity. "The American people voted for change," House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said yesterday. "We ought to extricate American men and women . . . from refereeing a civil war."
The measure angered the Bush administration. "This is for political posturing and to appease radical groups," chiefly MoveOn.org and Code Pink, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday.
The close vote reflected days of arm-twisting by Democratic leaders, who labored over language to satisfy the party's antiwar liberals and conservative Blue Dogs, and the White House, which dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to press its case. Early yesterday, Hoyer would say only that Democrats had a "winning" margin.
In a statement, the White House said the proposal "unwisely abandons the cause of freedom and stability in the Middle East."
Senate Republican leaders said they will allow a vote on the House bill, but only if they can offer their own version: a $70 billion package with no strings attached.
The problem for Democrats is not just a Bush veto, which is all but certain and impossible to override, but the fact that the move is nothing more than political posturing. While there may be a majority of Americans who want a different strategy in Iraq (although that supposition itself is now suspect), a vast majority of Americans don't want to abandon our troops while they are still on the field of battle. Cutting off their funds is the only thing Congress can do and they can't even do that effectively.
This move has been tried before and it failed before. The news coming out of Iraq is much more positive (even if not well covered) and America still has faith in its soldiers, if not in its president. In the end, the Democrats will have to cave and they will, one more time, show that they are incapable of leading on any issue.