Will Senate Republicans Filibuster on Iraq?
by Jonathan Singer, Fri May 11, 2007 at 07:23:16 AM EDT
Way down towards the end of Jonathan Weisman's front page article in The Washington Post on the Iraq bill passed by the House last night, the reporter includes an interesting and fairly surprising nugget: There's a possibility of a Republican filibuster against funds for the Iraq War on the basis of GOP opposition to the benchmarks included by Democrats.
Reid faces two legislative hurdles. First, he must gain Republican support for a placeholder bill, so he can start negotiations with the House. Then he will have to strike a final agreement with Pelosi that can attract enough Senate GOP support to avert a filibuster. [emphasis added]
As best I can remember this is the first time I've heard anyone raise the possibility that the Republicans would filibuster against the Iraq supplemental on the grounds of the benchmarks included in the legislation. After all, they did not mount a filibuster against the previous Iraq funding bill containing a provision mandating the beginning of a withdrawal of American troops even though they had sufficient numbers to do so.
My sense is that Republicans wouldn't filibuster a bill similar to the one passed last night in the House -- but I could be wrong. If the Republicans in the Senate indeed vote to block cloture on such a bill in the hopes of killing it, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his caucus should force the Republicans into actually mounting a filibuster. And I'm not talking about a 24- or 48-hour marathon like the Republicans' undertook last Congress to try to bully the Democrats on judges. If the Republicans believe they have a winning issue blocking funding in an attempt to force the Democrats' into removing benchmarks for accountability then the Democrats should fight back by forcing the Republicans to speak at length -- for a week, for a month, however long until enough GOP Senators peel off of the effort so that the caucus relents and allows a vote on the Democrats' Iraq funding bill.
It's hard for me to envision the Democrats losing such a battle in the arena of public opinion. In fact, there are few things in my mind that could strengthen the Democrats' hand as they try to end the war in Iraq as much as a Republican filibuster. Now I don't think Republicans are stupid enough to do this, but perhaps I shouldn't underestimate their capabilities...