The House's $124 billion spending bill would fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and require that combat troops leave Iraq by fall of 2008, and possibly sooner if the Iraqi government does not make progress on its political and security commitments.Bydlę.
But several hurdles remained. Several anti-war liberals were expected to join Republicans in opposing the measure because they say it continues to bankroll an immoral war. And if the bill does scrape by in the House, it may sink in the Senate, where many Democrats have resisted firm timetables on the war.
On top of that, Bush has vowed to veto such a restrictive measure if it ever reaches his desk.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., continued Wednesday to press party members to back the bill, unsure whether she had enough votes to pass it. In a closed-door meeting, former President Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, tried to convince party skeptics that the bill was their best chance at ending the war.
"Today is an historic day," Ms. Pelosi said on the House floor. "The new Congress will vote to end the war in Iraq." But of course the bill does nothing of the sort. If she truly wanted to end the war, the Speaker and her fellow Democrats could simply have used their power of the purse to refuse to fund it. But that would have meant taking some responsibility for what happens in Iraq, which is the last thing Democrats want to do. So they have passed a bill that funds the war while claiming it ends the war.Speaking of MoveOn.org, about two-dozen members of the anti-war "movement" in Forest Grove protested the war last Monday in the down-town area. I didn't see them for some reason. Oh, I know, I have a job. In any case, these are proabbly the people I described in my latest guest column in FGNT.
The bill's "benchmarks" and deadlines certainly have nothing to do with achieving victory in Iraq, or assisting General David Petraeus's campaign to secure Baghdad. They are all about the war inside the Democratic Caucus. On the one hand, they appease the antiwar left by pretending to declare the war illegal if certain goals aren't met by Iraqis or U.S. forces. But on the other, they allow "moderates" from swing districts to claim they are nonetheless "supporting the troops." Acts of Congress don't get much more cynical than that.
This is not to say the vote won't do considerable harm. It will be noted by our enemies in Iraq and will encourage them to inflict more casualties to further sour American support. It will make it harder for Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to disarm Shiite militias, who can point to the vote and say the Americans will soon be leaving. And most disgraceful, it will send a message to U.S. troops that they can fight on--albeit without much chance of success and without Congressional support.
The lengths that Democratic leaders had to go to win their "triumph" betrayed its cynicism. To get her narrow majority of 218 votes, Ms. Pelosi and Appropriations Chairman David Obey had to load it up like a farm bill: $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million for spinach growers, $283 million for dairy farmers--all told, some $20 billion in vote-buying earmarks of the kind Democrats campaigned against last year.
Even at that price, they could win over a mere two Republicans: antiwar Members Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland and Walter Jones of North Carolina. We hope GOP primary voters note those votes well. Given how the war hurt so many Republicans last November, this GOP solidarity is notable and a credit to the minority leadership.
President Bush was quick to denounce the vote yesterday, promising a veto. And we hope he keeps it up. By bowing to their antiwar left, Democrats are once again showing that they can't be trusted on national security. The President should drive that message home until Congress gives him a clean war bill that gives our troops the money to fight our enemies without having to take orders from MoveOn.org.
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