This week it is expected that Congress will send President Bush the $100 billion war funding bill. A joint House and Senate panel is set to meet on Monday to reconcile the differences between each of their respective bills, but it is expected that the troop withdrawal provision will remain in the final bill. Last month, the House approved a bill that imposes a strict September 1, 2008 deadline for all troops to leave Iraq. The less harsh Senate bill calls for a nonbinding goal of having most of the troops out of Iraq by March 1, 2008. President Bush has consistently vowed to veto any funding that contains the troop withdrawal provision. The full House could vote on the final bill on Wednesday, with the Senate soon to follow.

The tricky part for the Democrats will come after the presidential veto. Liberal Democrats want their Party to stand tall and fight to deny funds for the war. Moderate Democrats want to limit funding for any new troops, and conservative Democrats don’t want to cut off funding at all. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) is advocating a bill that will only fund the war for a few more months, in order to buy the Democrats more time to pass troop withdrawal legislation. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) believes that cutting off funding would send the wrong message to the troops and he added, “The defeat of an effort to cut funding would be used by the president as evidence of support for his policy.” Levin would vote for a bill that funds the war through September as long as it included pressure on the Iraqi government to live up to their benchmarks.

In the end the Democrats won’t have much choice, but to give President Bush what he wants. As Rep. James Moran (D-VA) put it, “We don’t want to throw in the towel. The problem is (Bush) is willing to play chicken with funding the troops and we aren’t. We just aren’t going to take a chance (the Pentagon) will run out of funding for the troops.” Until the Democrats can either convince congressional Republicans to join them, or they win more seats in the Congress, they do not have the 2/3 majority needed to override a presidential veto. As much as it might disappoint opponents of the war, the Democrats appear not to have the same strength and conviction that the White House possesses on the issue of this war. To put it another way, it isn’t a matter of if the Democrats will give in, but it is just a matter of when.

Quotes were taken from this story

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 blog radio

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