Senate Democrats have put together a war spending bill that contains a provision that would direct President Bush to start bringing home troops from Iraq with the long term goal being a removal of all U.S. forces in a little over a year. This new provision is similar to the one that fell 12 votes short of passage in the Senate last week. The resolution states that, “United States troops should not be policing a civil war, and the current conflict in Iraq requires principally a political solution.” Like the previously defeated bill in the Senate, this one also sets a nonbinding goal of having all the troops out of Iraq by March 31, 2008.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) gave details of the war spending bill to committee members on Wednesday. The Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday. The $121.5 billion dollar appropriation is expected to pass the Senate committee and then head to the floor for a full vote. The House is also expected to vote on a slightly more expensive $124 billion war funding appropriations bill on Thursday. Their bill too, imposes a deadline on the White House for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The House deadline line would be September 2008.

 Republicans, and some conservative Democrats, have already loudly expressed their opposition to any bill that sets a firm deadline for the withdrawal of troops. The president has already promised to veto any bill that attempts to oppose a deadline, or limit his actions on the war. What makes this proposal different from last week’s rejected measure is that it is attached to war funding bill. Those who are against the deadlines may find it difficult to vote against funding for the troops, as well as funding for assistance for fishers and farmers, hurricane reconstruction and other popular congressional projects. Each proposal imposes benchmarks for the improvement of the Iraqi government. In the Senate version there are no consequences for falling short of the goals. In the House, missed benchmarks will lead to troop withdrawals.

This bill is a little taste of the Republicans own medicine. It had become common practice for GOP leaders to tie passage of something the Democrats wanted, for example the minimum wage increase, to something they were opposed to,  like corporate tax cuts, and force to choose between getting something or getting nothing. This bill really puts conservatives in a bad spot, because they are the ones who have wrapped themselves around the banner of supporting the troops. Voting against the funding because of the deadline measures, will make the Republicans look like they don’t care about the troops. My prediction is that the Congress will pass the funding bill, with the deadlines included, and make President Bush look like the bad guy for vetoing it.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse

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