"I've had enough of 'nonbinding,' " says
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA). OK, then. So what's next?
The new plan from Senate Democrats, revealed today in the major papers, is to supersede the 2002 Iraq War authorization resolution with one that would pull out combat troops starting in March, 2008. After that, only troops involved with counterterrorism operations (against Al Qaeda), training Iraqi troops, and securing Iraq's border would remain. The Politico has the best rundown
of the resolution's nitty gritty details. Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Joe Biden (D-DE) are the main drivers behind it, but it has support across the spectrum of Senate Democrats. It's unclear when a vote would occur.
Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. John Murtha's (D-PA) plan to restrict funding for only those troops deemed fully rested, trained and equipped was too aggressive for a number of moderate Democrats (says
Blue Dog Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN): "Congress has no business micromanaging a war, cutting off funding or even conditioning those funds."). A sort of compromise strategy settles for making President Bush acknowledge that he is sending troops into Iraq underequipped and under-rested -- but still hands over the funds, no strings attached. From The Washington Post
Several Democratic aides say the Iraq funding bill, due for a vote the week of March 12, may contain some of Murtha's demands for more training and better equipment for combat troops. But the proposals that set the toughest requirements are likely to drop out, such as a demand that troops be trained on and deployed with the combat equipment they will use in Iraq.
More important, the legislation may include a waiver that the president or defense secretary could invoke to deploy troops who are not fully combat-ready, Democratic aides said. That way, the commander in chief's hands would not be tied.
But under such a bill the president would have to publicly acknowledge that he is deploying troops with less than a year's rest from combat, that he is extending combat tours of troops in Iraq, or that he is sending units into battle without full training in counterinsurgency or urban warfare, the aides said.