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Dem leaders brief party on new Iraq plan

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070508/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq Dem leaders brief party on new Iraq plan By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , May 8, 2007
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070508/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq

      Dem leaders brief party on new Iraq plan

      By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes
      ago

      WASHINGTON - House Democratic leaders briefed party
      members Tuesday on new legislation that would fund the
      Iraq war through July, then give Congress the option
      of cutting off money if conditions do not improve.

      If members agree to back the plan as expected, a vote
      on the new war spending bill could come as early
      Thursday. The proposal, pitched last week by Rep.
      David Obey (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., was
      first disclosed last week by The Associated Press.

      Democrats told reporters the plan is likely to provide
      more than $40 billion for the war and other
      high-priority projects, then vote "mid summer" on
      whether to release more money for military operations.

      The plan had dim prospects of surviving in the Senate,
      where most Democrats want to guarantee funding for
      troops through September and were trying to negotiate
      a deal with the White House.

      House Democrats said they weren't too concerned with
      getting the White House's blessing.

      "They know what we're doing obviously," said Rep. Rahm
      Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill. "I don't
      think their subscriptions to the newspapers ended at
      any time recently."

      House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record),
      D-Calif., said she had promised to find common ground
      with the Bush administration, but made it clear last
      week that "if we didn't find out common ground, we
      would stand our ground."

      White House spokesman Tony Snow on Tuesday called the
      approach "just bad management."

      "We think it is appropriate to be able to give
      commanders what they are going to need, and also
      forces in the field, so that you can make long-term
      decisions in trying to build the mission," Snow said.

      Congressional Republicans immediately dismissed the
      Democratic proposal as unfairly rationing funds needed
      in combat and said their members would not support it.

      Democrats "should not treat our men and women in
      uniform like they are children who are getting a
      monthly allowance," said Rep. John Boehner (news, bio,
      voting record), R-Ohio, his party's leader.

      Added Rep. Adam Putnam (news, bio, voting record),
      R-Fla., after a GOP caucus meeting Tuesday: "It's an
      irresponsible approach. You do not fund wars 60 days
      at a time."

      The Democratic proposal comes in response to
      President Bush's veto last week of a $124.2 billion
      bill that would have funded the war in Iraq, among
      other things, but demanded troops begin coming home on
      Oct. 1. Republicans agreed to uphold the veto, and
      Democrats were forced back to the drawing board.

      House Democrats want to provide a bill that supports
      the troops, but not give Bush a blank check on the
      deeply unpopular and costly war. Further complicating
      matters, several House liberals oppose funding the war
      at all while other more conservative Democrats are
      reluctant to tie strings to a bill needed by the
      troops.

      The new version is likely to meet resistance in the
      Senate. Several Senate Democrats said they would
      oppose a short-term funding bill because it leaves
      open the question of whether troops will get the
      resources they need after July.

      "There's the question of why it wasn't fully funded,"
      said Sen. Ben Nelson (news, bio, voting record),
      D-Neb.

      If the House version of the bill fails in conference
      with the Senate, Democratic leaders say their members
      will have other chances to affect Iraq policy. Party
      leaders have pointed to the 2008 defense authorization
      bill, which helps to set Pentagon policy, as well as
      the 2008 appropriations bills.

      However, that plan could meet resistance by members
      reluctant to watch their carefully crafted bills sink
      under a presidential veto. Rep. Ike Skelton (news,
      bio, voting record), D-Mo., chairman of the Armed
      Services Committee, has drafted a defense
      authorization bill that requires U.S. officials to
      report on progress made on the war. But according to a
      panel aide familiar with the draft, the bill so far
      does not include a tough mandate to end the war.
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