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March 23, 2007

Thank You, Nancy and the Dems

We had a big win today with the passage of the supplemental Iraq war spending bill, H.R. 1591, in the House where it squeaked by with a margin of 218 to 212.  That was an amazing feat on the part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a rash of other Democratic leaders in the House, including our own Jim McDermott, whose announcement that he was voting for the bill yesterday was key to nudging the vote into the "win" column. 

The remaining five Democratic representatives - Baird, Smith, Inslee, Larsen, and Dicks also voted in support of H.R 1591.  None of the three Republicans voted for it.  Of the 212 members who opposed the bill, 198 were Republicans and 14 were Democrats.  Only 2 Republicans voted for the measure.

It isn't all we'd want by any measure and certainly will not bring the troops home quickly enough, but it was a lot.  And, it would support a new direction in Iraq were it to pass.  Now, we all know this isn't going to become law, not having to make its way through to a 60 vote passage in the Senate, something that would require some doing.  Not to mention a promised Presidential veto.  But they will keep trying and, in the meantime, the vote sent a message to the public and a message to the White House:

    1.  To the public - "We heard you loud and clear.  You want us out but not precipitously."

    2.  To the White House - "That's it.  You will get away with no more crap."   

The $124 billion bill would require that combat operations cease before September 2008, or earlier.   

In addition, here are the other main points:   

  • Ensure that U.S. troops have the resources and training they need
  • Improve healthcare for returning service members and veterans
  • Direct more resources to the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan
  • Require Iraqis to take control of Iraq - by meeting the security, political and economic benchmarks established by President Bush

This momentous bill was a snapshot of where Congress is today on the Iraq War.   It's the first time they've really done anything to thwart the President's will and it was a pretty satisfactory punch to the gut of the administration, an administration that seems to understand nothing else. 

Naturally, the Republicans were against it because it promises to begin the process of holding dear leader Bush accountable.  Then that great unraveling begs the question why they themselves were so enabling of all that Bush has done. 

A entirely other group presented opposition as well.   A number of liberal Democrats, like Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, all members of the "Out of Iraq" caucus in the House, absolutely didn't think the bill went far enough in withdrawing troops from Iraq NOW.  But somehow, miraculously, with a fair amount of pork thrown in to change a last few votes, the bill passed.  And then Pelosi, choir master extraordinaire, led the Chamber in a tribute to that trio of female Democratic representatives from California who really wanted a stronger bill and voted against this bill but who also released the other 72 or so caucus members to vote in whatever way they needed to be comfortable. 

She did it.  Thanks Nancy.  Thanks to all of you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 23, 2007 at 11:34 PM in National and International Politics, Strategery | Permalink

Comments

Brava Pelosi!

AND thanks to you, Lynn. If you haven't seen it yet, there's another good, rather parallel analysis at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/3/23/141339/926 ("Major Danby" on "The Thinkable, and why 218 was the perfect number").

Posted by: lotus | Mar 24, 2007 5:31:19 AM

The end of the war is now thinkable. That's the key point of the DailyKos diary noted by Lotus above. Yes! Plus this:

"We are the party that is going to end this war. And God help those who stand against us."

Yes! That's why the vote is so important, even if, as seems likely, it isn't signed into law.

Posted by: Lynn | Mar 24, 2007 8:49:07 AM

Hmm, I'll let you know if the two returning Iraq veterans in our family, who will deploy again to Iraq in their second tours this year - 2007 - will survive to see 2008. And if they do survive, after two combat tours - well, guess their wives and children will bear the brunt of that for the next decades.

Yeah, right, Thanks Nancy Peloski, I hoped you could do better, I prayed that you would do better...it is with heavy heart that I cannot celebrate the passage of the pork-laden supplemental Iraq spending bill as anything remotely coming close to an end to the Iraq war.

2008 - and as President Bush already told the nation last year in 2006, it will be a future President that will have to deal with Iraq. It's hard to find this funding appropriation calling for an end in 2008 (duh!) as indicative of an act of courage on the part of the Democratic majority worthy of celebrating.

Posted by: Lietta Ruger | Mar 24, 2007 7:46:53 PM

Lietta - it is distressing that we can't find a way to end the war soon. But there is no way that a bill mandating more of what the Progressive Caucus wanted ever would have passed. It never had a chance. There are too many Blue Dog Dems to fend it off (which they promised to do) and getting something passed that at least puts us on the road out, with a stipulation for withdrawing by a certain date, was a victory nonetheless. Pelosi has a hell of situation on her hands trying to get consensus from all the different factions w/in the Dem. party. It's really not fair to blame her for the grief that the Blue Dogs are causing. And, frankly, I think any Dem. bill that forces a foot-stomping veto from Bush is worth it.

Bush has screwed us seven ways from Sunday. What he has done to this country in the last six years is monumental. It's not realistic to think that Pelosi can clean up Bush's mess in Iraq in just eight weeks. She's only been Speaker for eight weeks...

Posted by: shoephone | Mar 24, 2007 8:21:13 PM

I remember hearing Lynn Woolsey, one of the progressives Representatives mentioned above, say once that the U.S. is not the Bay Area and people had to understand that. She took a seat that came open when Barbara Boxer went to the Senate, which is to say another one of the safely liberal seats in the country.

Her constituents would ask her why she couldn't get a national health care program through Congress or fend off all the attacks on abortion. Much as she wished it were otherwise, she'd say, she had to recognize that other representatives had other constituencies.

My heart hurts for all of us, Lietta. But I have to hand it to Pelosi for keeping people basically together to move a little step forward.

Posted by: Lynn | Mar 24, 2007 9:19:33 PM

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