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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Showdown Week

This will be the week for grandstanding and the showdown over Iraq, kind of. The House and Senate conference committee reconciled the two versions of the War Funding/Emergency Pork bills they passed before spring break, and by Friday it should go to the White House for it's promised veto.

The true showdown will come next week, when Congress has to decide to either try and override the vetos, or come up with a new plan of their own, since the one with deadlines is dead on arrival.

Don't bet on a symbolic vote to override the veto; it would come up with much smaller numbers than the compromise bill will get in either chamber, embarassing Pelosi and Reid. Neither can twist enough arms to get a two thirds majority, and so the folks who were bribed into accepting a bill they disliked in the first place have no reason to vote for the override. That would be a legislative victory for Bush that neither Reid or Pelosi could stomach, so they'll just let it die.

If I were the President, I would in fact dare Reid and Pelosi to bring it up for an override vote, and challenge their authority. Yes, it's crass partisanship, but it's also a good way to smack both of them down by showing how limited their power in Congress really is with such slim majorities.

For their part, here's what Congress could probably could get in the compromise, but because of their far left money support won't try for, yet. They could probably get a date put in the new bill to limit the number of troops after August or September, limiting the time on Bush's surge in Iraq. They could most likely get the majority of the benchmarks for the Iraqi government, which aren't a bad thing since they seem to need prodding. They could even keep the majority of their training requirements to try and limit troop deployments.

Bush for his part has a bigger stick than the Democrats like to admit. He can, like his predecessor did for Kosovo, use executive orders to get around the funding issues, and at the same time punish Congress men and women at home.

Bill Clinton couldn't get the GOP controlled Congress to pass what he wanted for funding for Kosovo, so he signed executive orders halting certain defense contract work, and shifting the money to fund troops. Those orders stopped work at plants in key (opposing) congressional districts, putting lawmakers in a quandry, do we give the President the money he says he needs, or do we try and explain to the voters in our district why we think their jobs are worth sacraficing.

While national polls might have said then, as they do now, that the idea of the war was unpopular, unemployment is less popular and especially in the House local districts are more important come election time than national polls.

My guess is Bush won't stick to defense projects to borrow money from, either. He'll hit all kinds of popular projects in all sorts of districts to keep the money flowing to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they'll be targeted at the weakest Democratic seats in the House with an election next year.

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