House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering a proposal that would pay for the Iraq war through at least July but cut off funding after that if the Iraqi government does not meet certain political and security goals, Democratic officials said Thursday.
The bill would be a direct challenge to President Bush, who says he cannot accept any legislation that would tie his hands on the war. This week, Bush vetoed a $124.2 billion bill that would have funded operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while requiring troops to begin coming home on Oct. 1.
The White House and Democratic leaders began negotiations Thursday on a possible compromise on the war spending bill.
In a closed-door leadership meeting, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., suggested that the House fund the war through July and provide some extra funding to ensure the military does not become strapped for cash. The bill also would identify benchmarks that must be met by the Iraqi government; if the government fails, the bill would prohibit funding the war past the end of July.
Under Obey’s proposal, members would vote separately on whether to fund some of the domestic spending in the Iraq bill that Bush opposed, such as agricultural assistance.
The plan was described by Democratic aides familiar with the plan who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them. According to a senior Democratic leadership aide, the plan has not been endorsed by Pelosi or in the Senate, and had yet to be described to rank-and-file members.
Obey declined to comment.
The proposal comes as Pelosi tried to appease a large number of House Democrats who say they cannot vote for a war spending bill unless it moves toward getting troops out of Iraq. Such a plan would show such Democrats that the speaker is not willing to back down to Bush and, at the same time, wants to support the troops.
The proposal, however, is unlikely to find similar support in the Senate, where some leading Democrats say they want to fund the bill through September.
One option for Pelosi would be to pass the bill only to agree to drop it later when it must be negotiated in the Senate.