Democrats Back Down On Iraq Timetable

As expected, Congressional Democrats have backed down from their demand that a timetable be included in the Iraq War supplemental.

President Bush and congressional leaders began negotiating a second war funding bill yesterday, with Democrats offering the first major concession: an agreement to drop their demand for a timeline to bring troops home from Iraq.

Democrats backed off after the House failed, on a vote of 222 to 203, to override the president’s veto of a $124 billion measure that would have required U.S. forces to begin withdrawing as early as July. But party leaders made it clear that the next bill will have to include language that influences war policy. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) outlined a second measure that would step up Iraqi accountability, “transition” the U.S. military role and show “a reasonable way to end this war.”

Presumably, the administration will agree to some minor concessions, likely the inclusion of vague “milestones,” to get a signable bill.

The reactions to this development are breaking down along predictable lines:

  • Oliver Willis: “[T]he Democrats simply capitulated and gave the president everything he wanted.”
  • Ed Morrissey: “After laughably failing to override the veto yesterday — a foregone conclusion for months — they now have to start over again, 90 days later, while the Pentagon has already run out of money for some of its operations.”
  • Jonathan Singer: “[T]his is exactly the type of story the Democrats do not want to see on the issue of Iraq.”
  • Dan Riehl: “If they are so all fired up to end the war, why not do what they are supposed to do? End the funding? Because they lack the votes and the political courage is why.”
  • Barbara O’Brien: “I’m betting that if the legislation contains any mandatory consequences for not meeting a benchmark, Bush will balk.”
  • Bruce McQuain: “Watch the Netroots gear up for this one folks.”

They’re all pretty much right, as it turns out.

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 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    Presumably, the administration will agree to some minor concessions, likely the inclusion of vague “milestones,” to get a signable bill.

    I don’t think so. Remember the last time Bush invited the Congressional Dems over to ‘discuss’ this issue? It was him saying ‘my way or the highway’ yet again, and I figure that’s exactly what he’ll do here too – stomp his little foot insist on what he wants with no possibility of compromise. That’s what he’s done the last 6 years, and he’s gotten away with it, too.

    Oversight is nice, but it remains to be seen if being in power has actually given the Dems any spine…

  2. Rodney Dill says:

    Makes Reid and Pelosi look like Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-dumber.

  3. markm says:

    Legion

    “. Remember the last time Bush invited the Congressional Dems over to ‘discuss’ this issue? It was him saying ‘my way or the highway’ yet again”

    His job is to make calls as he sees fit. The Congress has constituents, he does not.

  4. markm says:

    Or to put it a better way….he IS “the commander guy”.

  5. Christopher says:

    I like the quote from Dan Riehl, but I’d take it a step further and say why would they send a bill with a timetable? Just END the war if they feel so strongly.

    If you believe a man is starving in the street, do you wait a month to buy him a meal? If the product you sell is found to be poisonous, do you wait a coupe of months to recall it? If you catch a man in the act of robbing a bank, do you wait for several weeks to arrest him?

    Democrats are doubly spineless. Not only this bill and now capitulating on it, but also bellowing how bad-wrong-murderous-senseless-winless the war is, yet they let it go on! If they believe all their rhetoric, they should introduce a bill to stop the war NOW! Even if it would be vetoed, go on record!

    Whether you agree with him of not, George Bush is the only one with a spine. He should be your hero, legion. He believes in what he is doing, in what Americans wanted him to do, in what democrats voted for him to do, in what he said he would do. The democrats only believe in winning re-election.

    Disgusting.

  6. legion says:

    markm,
    You, sir, are dead wrong. You, like Bush himself, seem to think the President has no boss. But he is _our employee_. You are correct in that the President doesn’t have to make consensus with anyone but himself to make decisions, but as the head of only _one_ of _three_ co-equal branches of government, he cannot lead this country in a direction it adamantly doesn’t want to go…

    Or to put it a better way….he IS “the commander guy”.

    And that pretty much sums up Bush’s most dangerous failing – he is one of those people who honestly believe that simply having a particular title magically grants him the skill, wisdom, and insight to do the job, without putting any effort into actually working at it.

  7. Michael says:

    When you go to buy a used car, the dealer’s first offer is never what he expects you will end up paying, and your first offer is never what you think the car is worth.

    The Democrats knew that whatever they sent to the White House that was in any way opposed to what the President wanted, it would be vetoed. So naturally, their first offer was much more than they expect to get, without being outrageous. Bush’s reaction was as expected, and now they can make their second offer which will be a little closer to what the really expected to get.

  8. markm says:

    Legion

    “You, sir, are dead wrong. You, like Bush himself, seem to think the President has no boss. But he is _our employee_. You are correct in that the President doesn’t have to make consensus with anyone but himself to make decisions”

    That’s what I said. He IS the commander guy. He needs no consensus like Congress. He makes policy. Congress no makey policy.

  9. Tlaloc says:

    He makes policy. Congress no makey policy.

    No that’s backwards. Congress makes policy, the exectuive’s role is to enforce that policy. Hence Congress makes the law and the executive runs the departments that see that the law is followed (well that was the theory).

    As for the Dems, well I wish I could say I was surprised, or disappointed, but this was all too expected. They’ll be idiots and roll over even as their side has all the momentum.

  10. Tlaloc says:

    When you go to buy a used car, the dealer’s first offer is never what he expects you will end up paying, and your first offer is never what you think the car is worth.

    Then their opening offer should have been “immediate end of the war, war crimes trial for cheney, and impeachment of bush.” Then they could have been haggled down to “Withdrawal from Iraq over the next 6 months and open congressional investigations into the myriad ways the war was bungled (hopefully ending in a war crimes and impeachment trial as above).”

  11. legion says:

    Tlaloc,
    Well, there’s Opening Bids and then there’s Pie In The Sky… 🙂

  12. Tlaloc says:

    We may have gotten “out in front of the story.” Pelosi and Reid are disputing that they have offered to drop the timetable language:

    the offices of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are denying a Washington Post story today saying that Congressional Democrats have backed down to the White House by offering to remove Iraq withdrawal language from the now-vetoed Iraq bill.

    Pelosi just went before the Democratic caucus and informed them that the story’s false, a Pelosi aide tells me. WaPo is standing by the story, and the lead writer of the Post piece, Jonathan Weisman, told me that leadership aides told him that the withdrawal language had to go. But the WaPo story goes further than that, saying explicitly that Dems have already “backed down” and offered the concession of removing the withdrawal language. Those aren’t the same thing.

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth/2007/05/pelosis_office.php

    Mr. Joyner, you might want to put this link in an update on the main post.

  13. markm says:

    “He makes policy. Congress no makey policy.”

    “No that’s backwards”

    …my bad.

  14. Anjin-San says:

    Meanwhile, perhaps taking a cue from our own “vacation President” the so called leader of Iraq are planning an extended Summer sojourn. What happend to “We will stand down when they stand up”?

    Guess what, they ain’t gonna stand up…

  15. Michael says:

    Then their opening offer should have been “immediate end of the war, war crimes trial for cheney, and impeachment of bush.”

    For the same reason nobody’s first offer on a car is $1.

    The point is to ask for more than you expect, while putting up the front that you believe the offer is perfectly fair to the other side. You want the other side to think they are coming out ahead by making you back down from your initial offer. If the other side doesn’t think your initial offer was earnest, they don’t win anything by talking you back just a little, and they will push for a larger concession.

  16. Michael says:

    No that’s backwards. Congress makes policy, the exectuive’s role is to enforce that policy.

    I thought Congress made laws, and that “policy” was how the executive enforced those laws.

  17. Tlaloc says:

    The point is to ask for more than you expect, while putting up the front that you believe the offer is perfectly fair to the other side. You want the other side to think they are coming out ahead by making you back down from your initial offer. If the other side doesn’t think your initial offer was earnest, they don’t win anything by talking you back just a little, and they will push for a larger concession.

    Sure, except in this case the dems have all the leverage. they are holding every card: they have the congressional majorities and the public backing. So the idea of what constitutes a fair middle ground should be way way to the left. Instead they’re playing as if Bush has any real say in the matter (and he doesn’t except in so much as they let him).

    In other words they walk on to the car lot ot find a number of gangsters pulling out the dealer’s toenails because he owesd them money he can’t repay. They can name their price if they just have the balls to do so.

  18. Tlaloc says:

    I thought Congress made laws, and that “policy” was how the executive enforced those laws.

    I guess it depends on what you want to call policy. Our drug policy, as I see it, is that a large numebr of drugs are illegal. That was decided by Congress, not the President. Our current foreign policy is a pseudo-war with Iraq. Again decided by Congress (Bush asked them to approve military force). And so on…

  19. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Tialoc, if you think that the Dems have all the power, what happend to the veto override? That majority you think they hold is slim and is a coalition of people bribed by pork to pass that bill. With out the pork? Some of you posters here need to review the constitution one more time. The areas of oversite of the executive branch by the legislative branch are spelled out. They do not include war fighting.

  20. Tlaloc says:

    Tialoc, if you think that the Dems have all the power, what happend to the veto override?

    True they can;t override the veto. But then again the president is the one asking them for money, not vice versa. they can simply give him the same bill again and again, or an even harsher bill each time. He’s on the clock, they aren’t. He’s the one preventing funds from going to the troops. Not them. He’s the one the public doesn’t trust to manage the conflict. Not them.

    And pretty soon there are going to be a lot of republicans clambering over each other in their haste to abandon him.

    Some of you posters here need to review the constitution one more time. The areas of oversite of the executive branch by the legislative branch are spelled out. They do not include war fighting.

    Alright, tell you what, since you know your constitution so well why don’t you direct me to the article that allows the president to get funds without congressional approval?

    It must be in there somewhere since you are infering that this appropriations bill is unconstitutional…

  21. Michael says:

    Going back to my analogy, if the dealer rejects your first offer on the car, you don’t make it lower. You also don’t walk out on of the dealership if he doesn’t comply, because you went in for a car, leaving without one is still a loss for you.

    The Democrats want the troops to have the money as much as the President does, not getting it to them would be as much a loss for them as for Bush.

  22. Tlaloc says:

    The Democrats want the troops to have the money as much as the President does, not getting it to them would be as much a loss for them as for Bush.

    Only if they didn’t offer. So long as they offer and the president refuses it isn’t a loss for them at all.

  23. Christopher says:

    Except that Bush doesn’t operate on win/lose, political edge, etc. He is fighting the war on terror and the dems want to play politics.

    Like I said…disgusting.

    And please stop with the car bargaining! That makes absolutely no sense at all in this regard. Morons.

  24. Michael says:

    Only if they didn’t offer. So long as they offer and the president refuses it isn’t a loss for them at all.

    It is still a loss for them because they didn’t meet their objectives. This isn’t a zero-sum game, it is possible for both sides to lose.

    If your goal is to buy a car for a little money as possible, and you end up walking out of the dealership without making a deal, you failed in half of your objectives.(This analogy provided specifically for Christopher, cheers).