On Wednesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to float a trial balloon in the form of two votes about the funding for and withdrawal of the troops in Iraq. The proposals will be voted on as amendments to the water projects bill. The first amendment that will be voted on is the Feingold/Reid Act. Feingold would require that the mission of U.S. troops be transitioned from combat to anti-terrorism. It also would require that the troops be withdrawn from Iraq within 120 days of the Act, and that no more money be spent on troop deployment after March 31, 2008. In a statement Sen. Feingold said, â€œI appreciate the Majority Leaderâ€™s work to bring up the Feingold-Reid legislation for a vote. The American people deserve to have the Senate go on record about whether or not it wants to end our misguided mission in Iraq and safely redeploy our brave troops.â€
The second amendment is the Levin/Reid amendment. It is pretty much the same war funding bill that the Senate passed and the president vetoed, but it contains one major change, it allows President Bush to waive the timeline for troop withdrawal. â€œDemocrats believe that we should do something very, very close to what was done in the bill that we sent to the President that he vetoed. And basically, thatâ€™s what we have here.Â But in recognition that the President has exercised his veto power of a bill to fund our troops and is prepared to do so again, we give the President the ability to waive the timelines we have in the legislation,â€ Reid said.
The White House has already voiced their opposition to the Levin amendment, “Such timelines tie the hands of our commanders, weaken our friends, embolden our enemies and enhance the risk faced by our troops in combat,” White House Spokesperson Dana Perino said. “The bottom line is that a date for retreat is a date for retreat, and the president opposes such provisions.”
It is likely that the Feingold amendment wonâ€™t pass, but the Levin amendment will, but it is highly unlikely the water projects bill will gather the 67 votes that would be needed to override a presidential veto. This vote will be the latest step in the Democratic plan to wear down Congressional Republicans support for the Bush strategy. However, I think it is too soon to anticipate mass Republican defections. In reality, these votes are another test of the strength for the Congressional support for Bush Iraq war strategy.
Â Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics