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House Dems considering deal with anti-war liberals
[note by david swanson: This is no kind of deal. Voting Yes on an anti-war bill that won't pass does not justify voting Yes on a pro-war bill that will.]
By Jonathan E. Kaplan, The Hill
A deal may be in the offing for liberal House Democrats who voted for the two versions of the Iraq war supplemental spending bills that passed.
While House Democratic leaders’ primary aim is to rally the caucus around a single supplemental spending bill, House Democratic leaders are considering offering anti-war liberals an opportunity to vote on a measure that would set a withdrawal date, in exchange for support on a compromise bill that likely would not include a fixed withdrawal date, Democratic aides said.
For the first time in her tenure as House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) faces the prospect of passing a measure with nearly equal numbers of Democratic and Republican votes. Her predecessor, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), made it a practice not to pass bills that the majority of the Republican conference did not support.
Democratic leaders hope to bring a revised war supplemental spending bill to the House floor by late Thursday evening or Friday, according to Democratic aides. Leadership’s goal is to send President Bush a bill by Memorial Day.
No progress on a compromise bill has been made since Thursday, when Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, proposed giving President Bush half the money now and the rest later, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Obey briefed congressional leaders in Pelosi’s office. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.), Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), and Progressive Caucus chairwomen Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) as well as a dozen other lawmakers attended the meeting, sources who were present said.
House Democratic leaders delayed their weekly meeting until today because of the State Dinner at the White House in honor of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Pelosi had accepted an invitation for last night’s State Dinner (House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) also planned to attend the dinner; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declined).
Some rank-and-file lawmakers gave up their afternoons to attend a tea with the queen in the garden of the British ambassador’s residence. The 90-minute event was expected to begin at 2:45 p.m., but lawmakers were supposed to arrive well beforehand.
The white-tie State Dinner is expected to seat 134 guests in the State Dining Room. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip today are set to tour the Children’s National Medical Center with Laura Bush. The queen also is expected to visit NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the National World War II Memorial. This evening she is expected to dine with the Bushes at the British Embassy before returning to London.
The politics of Iraq, however, did not stop for the pomp and circumstance of the queen’s visit. On the Senate floor yesterday, Reid pounced on remarks made by Boehner, who said Sunday that Bush “risks defections [in the GOP ranks] in the fall if the war situation hasn’t improved.”
Reid added that it is “revealing, and somewhat disturbing … that the Republican leader is willing to allow our troops to stay in Iraq with a failing strategy until he and his colleagues decide it is time to part with the president.”
Anti-war groups sought to increase pressure on congressional leaders, encouraging them to take a tougher stance with Bush. A group of 20 peace organizations urged Pelosi and Reid to send Bush a “bill to fund only the safe, orderly and complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops … within six months.”
Some of the peace groups are organizing a summer “Swarm on Congress” to put more public pressure on lawmakers to end the war.