Supporting the Troops?

Matthew Yglesias asks,

If George W. Bush vetos the Iraq supplemental the Democrats passed, isn’t that him cutting off funding for the troops in the field? I mean, here’s congress, appropriating some funds for the troops, and instead of letting the troops get the funds Bush is saying, no, he’ll hold their well-being hostage to advance his own perogatives and ego.

It could certainly be perceived that way, especially since the public is increasingly ready to get out of Iraq.

From a pure public policy perspective, though, it’s just checks and balances at work. The president, as commander-in-chief, has a plan for winning the war which Congress, as controller of the purse strings, refuses to adequately fund. The president’s main lever here is the veto pen, followed by a plea from the bully pulpit to demand Congress pass an improved version of the bill.

Bush is, to say the least, not the most effective user of said platform and, given the unpopularity of the war, his pleas could fall flat, at which point he’ll be forced to sign an essentially unchanged bill. (I’m presuming that the votes for override don’t exist.)

This, by the way, is the way things are supposed to work when there are strong inter-branch disputes over significant matters of policy.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Iraq War, Military Affairs, Politics 101, US Politics, , , , , , ,
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:

    Well, Bush intends to veto it because it contains the ‘poison pill’ of a positive withdrawal of US troops. There’s nothing exciting about that in itself; such landmines are part & parcel of Congressional compromises (or failures to compromise), and have been for years.

    What’s interesting about this go-around is that the repubs aren’t doing Bush’s work for him anymore – they could delay or even derail this whole thing procedurally, but they know full well how this will likely play out in public. They want Bush’s veto to be the only fingerprints on it.

  2. Triumph says:

    From a pure public policy perspective, though, it’s just checks and balances at work.

    This is pure 9/10 mentality. During a time of war, the President must be given the authority he desires.

    Bush is the Supreme Commander and Great Leader. He has pledged to win the fight–never to retreat–beat the terrorists.

    When the liberal Democrat party tries to micromanage the President’s power, they are playing into the hands of the evildoers.

  3. Tlaloc says:

    This is pure 9/10 mentality.

    Translation: this is how we used to think before we wet ourselves with fear!

  4. Boyd says:

    Another possibility is signing the bill with one of those add-on messages that essentially states that Congress passed the bill when the war in Iraq was in a certain state, but if conditions change, as Commander-in-Chief, he might be forced to keep troops in Iraq beyond the deadlines established.

    Piece o’ cake!

  5. Blue says:

    Agreed. If Bush vetoes the supplemental it will be he who restricts funding for the troops. Despite the inevitability of a Bush veto, I think the Democrats should proceed.

    They must attempt to do what they believe is in the best interests of the country even when the outcome of their efforts is doomed to fail.

  6. Wayne says:

    So the Democrats can put all the want in the war supplemental bill. Next the democrats will but universal heath care, minority reparation, tax increases, federal gun laws and 10 billion for democratic elections campaigns and if Bush vetoes it he is responsible for not funding the troops. Please get real.

    Emergency war supplemental should only contain funds for the war. It is congress responsibility to do that and if they fail do that then it is their fault not the Presidents.

  7. Tano says:

    “This, by the way, is the way things are supposed to work when there are strong inter-branch disputes over significant matters of policy. .”

    Or to say it better: This is how it works when the people do not support the policies of the president.

  8. bob in fl says:

    The House bill will not make it through the Senate in its current form. The Senate version, as I understand it, would be essentially the same except it would be a non-binding resolution. Public comment on this issue is a good thing, but I will not get my panties in a twist until I see what we are really talking about.

  9. Martin says:

    It’s conceivable a President could keep a war going over majority opposition, but certainly not this President.

  10. Bandit says:

    this is how we used to think before we wet ourselves with fear!

    Speak 4 yourself