Friday, March 23, 2007

Iraq bills move forward in House and Senate

It's hard to know what to make of this exactly, but at least it's progress of a sort. The House is expected to pass a binding measure today that will establish readiness standards and a deadline of Aug. 31, 2008 for withdrawal of the troops. More surprisingly to me, a "Senate committee also passed a spending bill yesterday that included a provision for bringing troops home within a year.
Initial efforts to tie the deployment of combat forces to tough standards for resting, equipping and training the troops have been bolstered by binding benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet. If the Iraqis fall short, troop withdrawals could begin as early as July 1. In any case, the withdrawals would have to begin in March 2008, with most combat forces out by Aug. 31, 2008.

Even the more cautious Senate Democrats have moved toward setting a troop-withdrawal date. The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved a $122 billion version of a spending bill that would require troops to begin leaving Iraq within four months of passage and would set a nonbinding goal of March 31, 2008, for the removal of combat troops.
Both bills appear to contain many avenues for the Bush administration to circumvent the measures and as a practical matter, Bush is likely to either veto the bills because they put any restraint on his recklessness or he could let them pass and simply issue one of his famous signing statements and ignore them, as he is wont to do.

I fear for our troops, this will have no practical effect. They will continue to be deployed, their tours will be extended beyond humane limits and the occupation will continue to bleed out their members and our treasury. But I find it vaguely hopeful that at least the Democrats managed to pull together some kind of consensus.

It's good to remember in a diverse group with varying agendas, that compromise is the key to action and by definition that means that nobody gets everything they want. These bills are at least a sign that the system is beginning to find some kind of balance again.

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