Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote This Afternoon
by Chris Bowers, Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 10:32:11 AM EDT
The vote this afternoon is on an amendment to the supplemental that seeks to strip all language regarding timetables and withdrawal from the supplemental. In order to defeat this amendment, and assuming that Gordon Smith and Ben Nelson are on board (which are not terrible assumptions, but are assumptions none the less), right now Democrats need one more vote. The primary targets to acquire this vote are Chuck Hagel, Mark Pryor, and John Warner. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that in the next few hours, those three people will decide whether or not Bush receives a blank check to continue his war indefinitely, or not. All three are up for re-election in 2008.
If this amendment passes, there will still be other amendments in the coming days, and there will also be a conference bill where Pelosi can try and strengthen what the senate eventually passes. Also, even if the already compromised House version of the bill ends up becoming still weaker, progressives will have the opportunity to defeat the conference report on the supplemental down the road. However, make no mistake: if we lose this vote, either a total blank check, or something very close to it, will pass the Senate, which puts us in real danger of a total blank check, or something very close it, arriving on Bush's desk even without a veto showdown.
This is dangerous territory for Democrats. No matter how many good opportunities we have in 2008, a defeat like this could prevent us from nationalizing the 2008 elections. While individual Democrats will still be able to argue that individual Republicans continue to support an extremely unpopular and destructive war, unless Democrats refuse to allow Bush to get away with a blank check, we won't be able to campaign like that as an entire party. If we lose this vote, and if the Senate leadership buckles as a result, the nightmare scenario on the Iraq supplemental begins to become a real possibility (not to mention a sizable left-wing abandonment of activism on behalf of Democrats in the 2008 elections). On the other hand, if we win this vote, and as a result we are able to send a solid conference report to Bush, then Democrats will have begun the process of going to the mat and we can prepare for a huge showdown as a united party.
There is still a lot left to fight over on the Iraq supplemental. While it is too late to try and whip Hagel, Pryor and Warner via telephone calls, I hope they, and the Senate Democratic leadership, know what is at stake. Caving, and giving Bush a blank check, would be a disaster on many, many levels. This vote is a major lynchpin in determining whether or not that happens, and we will know the results in just a few hours.