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Iraq

 

The Washington Post says Bush's veto yesterday escalated "the most serious confrontation between the White House and Congress over war policy in a generation… The clash harked back to the debates of the Vietnam War era, when lawmakers likewise tried to use the power of the purse to end an unpopular conflict."

The New York Times: "The next chapter begins Wednesday, when Congressional leaders are expected to meet Mr. Bush at the White House to open negotiations on a new bill. They are expected to look for ways to preserve the benchmarks for Iraqi progress that were included in the initial bill while eliminating the timetables for troop withdrawal that Mr. Bush has emphatically rejected. Several Republican leaders said Tuesday that they were likely to support such benchmarks, and White House aides said Tuesday that Mr. Bush, who has supported goals and benchmarks for the Iraqi government, might back such a measure — but only if the benchmarks are nonbinding."

But USA Today reports that there is no agreement in Congress on how to proceed. Rep. Jack Murtha "has proposed a bill that would provide funding for the wars for two months. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the Senate's top defense appropriator, called the idea 'not practical.' Murtha and Inouye are both combat veterans."

The Congressional Research Service said the Army can sustain its operations "through most of July" without new funding, while Bush Administration officials have said the military might be hampered by a funding crunch as early as May 15. Bush yesterday called the need for funding ``urgent.''

The Wall Street Journal: "President Bush can rely on strong Republican support in his veto of an Iraq-war funding bill, but the strain of the war risks creating splits in his party and producing major defections by this fall. Republican moderates, such as former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia, are already demanding a greater voice in the second round of talks on war funding. Rep. Ray LaHood (R., Ill.), who has been loyal to the president, said he and other Republican lawmakers will have to reassess their support if military commander Gen. David Petraeus and the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki don't show more progress by September."

In response to Bush's veto, Edwards is launching the first TV ad of his campaign, yet it appears only on DC cable. The Washington Post: "In the ad, nine people are featured protesting the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and asking Congress to stand up to the commander in chief. 'President Bush isn't listening to us,' says one. Another advises: 'Don't back down to President Bush.' 'Send him the same bill again and again,' a third says. Edwards appears in the ad only at its conclusion to offer the required tagline: 'I'm John Edwards, and I approved this message.'"

Also responding to Bush's veto, the Democratic group Americans United began airing its own new TV ad (at about a $250,000 buy). "Four years later there's no end in sight. And George Bush still won't face reality," the announcer in the ad says. "Congress voted to start bringing our troops home. But the President vetoed the bill. He was wrong then. And he's wrong now. It's the will of one nation…versus the stubbornness of one man."

NBC's Mike Viqueira says the burning question yesterday was whether or not Democrats intentionally sent President Bush the Iraq supplemental on the 4th anniversary of "Mission Accomplished." The answer is no, according to Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi said that she was attending the funeral of Rep. Millender McDonald (D) in California, and that she therefore was unavailable to sign it until today.

The bill was done in the Senate by late lunchtime on Thursday. It is possible, Viq says, that she could have signed it then, or had it sent to California over the weekend (both the House and the Senate were out on Friday, natch). Similar things have been done in the past. But it's clear that they wanted to do this publicly -- whether it was the anniversary or not. Yesterday was the first day that it could be done.