Democrats deliberate next step with Senate likely to reject proposal to cut off war money
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats facing rejection of a proposal to cut off money for the Iraq war are deliberating their next step in trying to rebuild anti-war momentum.
In recent months, violence in Iraq has declined and the Baghdad government has made small steps toward political reconciliation, including plans to hold provincial elections on Oct. 1. While Democratic voters remain largely against the war, the security improvement has helped to cool anxiety among Republicans and stave off legislation demanding that troops start coming home.
The Senate was expected to vote today on a proposal to order troop withdrawals to begin within 120 days. With that legislation’s failure almost assured and lacking a veto-proof majority in Congress even if such a proposal passed, Democrats are talking about whether to shift their strategy. Instead of repeating losing votes on legislation tying money to troop withdrawals, many party members want to focus more on the policy issues surrounding Iraq, including the preparedness of U.S. troops and reining in private contractors.
Top Army officials are expected to testify today before the Senate on the health of the ground force.
Another desire by many Democrats is to tie the ailing economy to the war. A coalition of anti-war groups said this week that it plans to spend more than $20 million this year to convince voters that the Republican party’s support for the war is bad for their wallets.
Still, other Democrats, including Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., say they want to pursue more votes to end funding for the war. Feingold sponsored Tuesday’s measure. According to aides, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who co-sponsored Feingold’s proposal, agreed to stage Tuesday’s vote in exchange for Feingold’s earlier support of a defense policy bill. The measure is expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to pass.
Published in The Messenger 2.26.08