24 April 2007

Gift For The President’s Veto Pen Should Hit His Desk This Week

A final and compromised version of the spending bill has passed in committee yesterday. It is expected to pass both houses and by the end of this week, it should be on the desk of President Bu…I will veto anything that denigrates my self-appointed position of all-knowing deity.

There were compromises made that included a bit of pork trimming. We can’t be sure if critical votes were lost in that trimming, but good money is on this being a passable bill.

We have information on the particulars of the new spending bill but reports seem to contradict each other on one issue. It is unclear as to whether the withdrawal dates are binding or non-binding. It is possible the bill reads with the beginning withdrawal dates as binding and the final withdrawal date as non-binding. That could certainly be seen as ineffectual. If the bill does not specify troop numbers to withdraw at the initial date, and there is no binding final date, then I suppose one troop could be sent home with no real withdrawal for an indefinite period of time.

Here are three mainstream media accounts of the date issue.

According to the Washington Post:
But once the president made it clear a veto was inevitable, Democratic leaders decided to stick to binding dates, at least for the initial troop pullouts.

According to Reuters:
…this new version merely establishes next March as a nonbinding date for withdrawing, the approach favored by the Senate.

According to the New York Times:
Congressional Democrats agreed Monday to ignore President Bush’s veto threat and send him a $124 billion war spending bill that orders the administration to begin pulling troops out of Iraq by Oct. 1.

The bill specifies certain dates that are floating deadlines based on progress. The bill stipulates that pullout must begin no later than October 1 with final withdrawal by March, 2008 (and by some accounts, April, 2008). However, withdrawal would have to begin as early as July 1 of this year if Bush cannot certify certain benchmarks are being met.

Some of these benchmarks include:

Leaders must ensure troops are adequately trained, equipped and rested before going into combat. Bush is given an avenue by which he can waive this but only if he offers a compelling and public reason for the waiver.

Iraq establishment of programs to disarm militias.

Reductions in sectarian violence.

Easing of laws that keep former Baath Party members out of the government.

Passage of an oil revenue-sharing law.

Simply, if Bush can show progress here, we defer to the October 1 withdrawal to be finalized by March 1. If progress is not made, troops would begin heading home July 1 to be completely withdrawn by the end of the year.

Date specific is not what one would call this bill. If President Bush honestly feels progress is being made, he should see this bill as an easy path to validation. But this isn’t Camelot and we are not dealing with Arthur here. It appears Bush will not be moved on this issue no matter the will of the American people; no matter the legislative bi-partisan positions to the contrary; no matter the disastrous condition of his occupation in Iraq; and no matter the rising level resistance from Iraqi citizens and now it’s government.

We all feel pretty confident about how this week will play out. The real questions present themselves when the bill heads back to the Hill in ribbons.

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