House Democrats Push Another Iraq Withdrawal Bill

Another day, another Iraq withdrawal proposal.

House Democrats have drafted new Iraq legislation they hope will appeal to Republicans fed up with the war: Start withdrawing troops in two months but leave it up to President Bush to decide when to complete the pullout.

The vote will come next week, as members take up a $460 billion bill covering military spending for 2008. Another vote could come again in September, after Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus delivers a long-anticipated assessment on the war and Congress considers a $142 billion measure needed to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This is big time,” Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said of the upcoming fall debate. “When you get to September, this is history. This is when we’re going to have a real confrontation with the president trying to work things out.”

On one hand, this is quite silly. A similar effort was just shot down, like others before it. On the other, it was blocked by a steadfast minority against the will of the majority of both Houses of Congress and the overwhelming support of the country.

My guess is that this is not, indeed, “big time.” This bill will go nowhere. Murtha is right, though, that the September report could provide a rationale for several Republican Senators who privately would like to get the hell out of Iraq to jump on the bandwagon. Absent some miracle between now and then — and I don’t expect one — the drumbeat for withdrawal will be much louder.

Julian Sanchez wrote a few days back,

Look, I’m “rooting for” success in Iraq too; I’m just not kidding myself about the odds. I’m hoping someone hands me a check for a cool million dollars next week also, but I’m not going to take on debt on the assumption it’s going to happen.

The theoretical odds of achieving something like our goals in Iraq are higher than those of Julian getting that million. Given that September suddenly looms as the decision point, however, I’m not so sure. I don’t think anyone seriously believes things will turn around — especially on the Iraqi domestic politics side — by then.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor 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.