Out Of Iraq Caucus Pushes For A Vote On Withdrawal

Something strange is happening: progressives in Congress are actually receiving media attention. For example, The Out of Iraq caucus, largely due to its dissatisfaction with the Democratic leadership's plan on Iraq, has actually received more Google News results (78) than the Blue Dogs (55) over the past month. Now, seventy-eight articles in one month still isn't much, but it is a start. In the coming weeks, the focus of the Out of Iraq caucus will be on an amendment to the supplemental war funding bill that will be offered by representative Barbara Lee. The bill will give members a chance to vote in favor of withdrawal
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.

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.
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 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.

Tags: Democrats, Ideology, Iraq (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

Re: Out Of Iraq Caucus Pushes For A Vote On Withdr

So, how does one discover who's IN the OOI caucus? Interestingly, if you look at the articles in Google News, the number of Reps is variously cited as 70, 71, 73, 76...?

I hear only one of OR's four Reps is on the list, which I think is a little odd actually. So I want a firm record of participation before I go asking any of their staffs why it's so.

by torridjoe 2007-03-07 10:06AM | 0 recs
I'm conflicted

You're absolutely right that a vote on a withdrawal text will be a useful thing to have.

So, although the vote is, as the piece says, sure to lose, it's nevertheless of some value to the Progs, in, as Matt said, getting a list of those for and against the real question.

However - when you say

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.

there, I disagree.

I care because Pelosi cares. And cares a lot. And, if she cares enough, there will be stuff she will be willing to give away.

The critical point right now: we don't know how much she cares.

And - my guess is, she doesn't know herself.

As I always say, with these things, the count comes first. If the Progs are reasonably confident of keeping enough of their folks together to defeat the supplemental bill, they should defeat the bill.

As the saying goes, If 'ifs' and 'ands' were pots and pans...

Undoubtedly - being human - Pelosi is assuming more than she should that the Progs, true to form, will fold, and that she'll have to give up squat to pass the supplemental bill.

If the Progs can record a RCV in which the bill loses, that establishes a factual baseline much stronger than any hunch, guess or druther.

By me, that is their #1 priority: they need to defeat the bill.

If they can't do that, then a symbolic vote is fine. More than their voting strength deserves.

But - if, on a realistic appreciation, excised of every drutherish thought, they stand a decent (say, 30-70) chance of defeating the bill, they have to go for that.

No one - least of all me - thinks that the bill won't pass eventually. That's not the point. We're not talking about troops left to starve and die. (Not any more so than under previous Iraq supplementals!)

The Progs - who, like you say, have come from nowhere over the Iraq issue - need to strike when the iron's hot.

And - this isn't just for Iraq. Up till now, the big yaps have been the Blue Dogs, NDC and CBC; the Progs have made their gentlemanly protests, and then been good boys and girls.

On a range of issues close to the heart of the lefty sphere, the Progs should be making the running. They won't - unless they have the confidence born of a clear-cut victory.

If they have the votes, they should defeat the supplemental bill.

That is all.

by skeptic06 2007-03-07 10:18AM | 0 recs
Patrick Murphy -- Where Does He Stand?

So, just checked Patrick Murphy (Blue Dog!)... He apparently says:

"Congressman Murphy supports a surge in diplomacy rather than an escalation of military forces.  He is the original co-sponsor of binding legislation that will set a timeline for redeploying American troops from Iraq - some of whom to Afghanistan to ward off the resurgent Taliban.

http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/pa0 8_murphy/22707MidEasttrip.html

So why is he not signing onto the progressive caucus's resolution?

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-03-07 03:34PM | 0 recs

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