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Democratic retreat on Iraq?

From NBC's Ken Strickland and Mike Viqueira
It's clear now that Democratic leaders on both sides of the Capitol are moving towards dropping their insistence on a end date deadline for completing troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Senate leaders are likely to move a defense measure on the week of the 17th that essentially calls for a withdrawal to begin later this year, but drops language that would require completion by April 30, 2008. "We are not backing off anything," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters today, while adding in the next breath that "we need 60 votes" -- a threshold that they have been repeatedly unable to meet this year on war votes. "There is nothing off the table on Iraq," he said.

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi is signaling that she, too, will allow votes on a similar measure in the House by the end of the month, as well as a measure that would require the Bush Administration to come forward with a redeployment plan within 60 days, according to a House leadership source.

It wasn't supposed to work out this way. Throughout the spring Democrats had talked of how they were hammering away at Republican resistance on deadline legislation, speaking of the "arc" that votes had progressively taken towards the Democratic position. September was to be a watershed moment for congressional action on the war, with the expectation that Republicans were going to start bucking the White House. The strategy was to change Republican votes, not to change the underlying legislation.