Congress Passes Iraq Timeline Bill, Veto Expected

Both Houses of Congress have passed an Iraq appropriations bill that would require withdrawal to begin at the end of the fiscal year. President Bush’s second veto should follow shortly.

A defiant Democratic-controlled Senate passed legislation Thursday that would require the start of troop withdrawals from Iraq by Oct. 1, propelling Congress toward a historic veto showdown with President Bush on the war. At the White House, the president immediately promised a veto. “It is amazing that legislation urgently needed to fund our troops took 80 days to make its way around the Capitol. But that’s where we are,” said deputy press secretary Dana Perino.

The 51-46 vote was largely along party lines, and like House passage of the same bill a day earlier, fell far short of the two-thirds margin needed to overturn the president’s threatened veto. Nevertheless, the legislation is the first binding challenge on the war that Democrats have managed to send to Bush since they reclaimed control of both houses of Congress in January.


The $124.2 billion bill requires troop withdrawals to begin Oct. 1, or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain benchmarks. The House passed the measure Wednesday by a 218-208 vote.

We’ll see what Round 2 brings. Clearly, Congress isn’t going to simply refuse to fund a war with troops in the field. It’ll be interested to see what face-saving compromise both sides ultimately agree to.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Iraq War, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Clearly, Congress isn’t going to simply refuse to fund a war with troops in the field.

    Clearly? I hope this isn’t wishful thinking. Perhaps the Democratic Party leadership is counting on the blame falling on Bush and the Republicans no matter how bad it gets. Their rhetoric of late does not seem to allow much room for compromise. There will, of course, have to be a compromise, but I’m not sure that Senator Majority Leader Reid and Speaker of the House Pelosi will maintain their leadership poistions if they push on this one much harder.

  2. Triumph says:

    You forgot to mention the most pathetic aspect of the White House response. Perino offered this explanation for the veto:

    Last November, the American people voted for a change in strategy in Iraq — and the President listened. Tonight, the House of Representatives voted for failure in Iraq — and the President will veto its bill.

    Ok, Dana: the American people voted OUT the Republican Congress who were the great supporters of Bush’s war. The new Congress passed a bill that offers a way out of the war–that reflects the view of the majority of Americans. And Bush claims that his veto of the bill ACTUALLY REFLECTS the sentiment of the last election?!?!?

    This is one of the more desperate rationales I have ever heard.

  3. legion says:

    And in related news, Chuck Hagel voted with the Dems on this bill. Look out for a particularly nasty slime attack on him, starting tomorrow…

  4. Steve Plunk says:

    The public didn’t really vote OUT the Republican Congress. They changed the make up of our congress and put more Democrats in, shifting the power. It was not a major change in seats but just enough to change a few things, far from a mandate of any sort.

    Bush’s sentiments should rest on the last election he was a candidate. In that election he won.

  5. Tano says:

    Perino says: “It is amazing that legislation urgently needed to fund our troops took 80 days to make its way around the Capitol.”

    And the crack reporters come back with the obvious question: “How long did the military supplementals take to get through the GOP-controlled Congress the last few years”?

    Right? They asked that question, I’m sure.

  6. jeff b says:

    Tano: Of course the press didn’t ask, but the close observer knows the answer already. The Republicans required 86 and 119 days to pass the supplementals in 2005 and 2006, respectively.