Democrats are considering their next step after President Bush’s inevitable veto of their war spending proposal, including a possible short-term funding bill that would force Congress to revisit the issue this summer.
Another alternative is providing the Pentagon the money it needs for the war but insisting that the Iraqi government live up to certain political promises. Or, sending Bush what he wants for now and setting their sights on 2008 spending legislation.
The options are being weighed as Bush and Congress head toward a showdown this week on his Iraq policy. House and Senate appropriations meet Monday to negotiate a final bill that, if approved by both chambers, could reach the president’s desk as early as the end of the week.
Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the Iraq war, is expected to brief lawmakers behind closed doors as they cast their final vote.
The legislation is expected to fund the Iraq war but call for combat troops to leave, probably by March 31, 2008. Bush has promised to reject it and Republicans say they will back him, leaving Democrats short of the two-thirds majority support needed to override the veto.
Setting an end date to the war before it’s won “would be a death blow to forces of moderation throughout the Middle East,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Democratic leaders have been reluctant to discuss their next step, focusing instead on their ability to send Bush legislation rebuking his Iraq policy. But other lawmakers say there is no denying that Democrats do not have the two-thirds majority needed to override Bush’s veto. And soon enough, everyone will be asking what happens next.