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.