Out Of Iraq Caucus Pushes For A Vote On Withdrawal
by Chris Bowers, Wed Mar 07, 2007 at 08:31:26 AM EST
House Democratic leaders, still lacking the consensus they need to move ahead with a bill to spend almost $100 billion on the war in Iraq, are considering a plan to give the war's fiercest critics a floor vote on their proposal for a quick withdrawal from Iraq.Whether or not there are members of the Out of Iraq caucus who will end up voting for the supplemental after the vote on withdrawal is not something I am particularly concerned about. The leadership probably won't allow a vote on the supplemental until they have a majority in favor of their non-binding conditions on troops standards. Besides, once the binding conditions on troop standards were dropped from the supplemental, I ceased having any desire to help pass, or even care about, the leadership's plans.
The idea is that in return for the vote -- which is sure to lose -- some of the anti-war Democrats would support the leadership's approach to ensure its passage. Without such an agreement, it would remain difficult for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move ahead with the spending bill that has been tied up for almost a month by disagreements within the Democratic caucus.
The leaders of the 71-member Out of Iraq Caucus in the House, including Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, are generally among Pelosi's most-loyal supporters. But on the issue of Iraq, they have insisted that any new money appropriated for the war go to pay for the safe withdrawal of all American forces, a process they say could be completed within a year or perhaps even more rapidly.
At issue is the special spending bill, known as the supplemental, that would pay the costs of the war through Sept. 30, which is the end of the federal fiscal year. Democratic leaders want to put conditions on troop deployments that would slow the pace if not stop President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more American troops to Iraq.
Woolsey said she and other Out of Iraq leaders met Tuesday afternoon with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. He asked them how many of their caucus would support the leadership bill if a vote on their proposal was allowed.
"He can ask, but there's a huge group of us who won't support the supplemental. I'm among them,'' said Woolsey, who has opposed previous special spending bills for the war.
But she conceded that some members of the Out of Iraq group would end up voting for the war spending bill. "There will be some. They want out of the war. They can say they voted their heart on the amendment. But then they voted for the supplemental,'' said Woolsey, who took to the House floor Tuesday to make her 190th five-minute speech against the war.
The new key on the supplemental vote, as Matt has implied previously, will be the list of members generated during the various votes, especially on the Lee amendment. This will be a vote to engage in a fully funded withdrawal from Iraq, probably in one year or less. Fully 60% of the American people support this plan, according to the latest Gallup poll. That vote will provide us with essential knowledge on which Democrats are serious about ending the war in Iraq, and which are unwilling to take the decisive action that is necessary from Congress in order to end the war. It will be the start of accountability moment, as we know which Democrats are taking the will of the American people to heart, and which will require substantially increased pressure. It is the first real vote on withdrawal since the start of the war, and as such it needs to be taken very seriously.
Americans want a fully funded withdrawal from Iraq over the next twelve months. It is high time we knew how many Democrats in Congress are willing to give it to them. The Out of Iraq provide us with that information.