House Democrats link war funding to progress in Iraq

May 04, 2007|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Determined to keep up pressure on the White House and congressional Republicans to support a troop withdrawal from Iraq, House Democratic leaders began to coalesce yesterday around a plan that would link continued war funding to progress by the Iraqi government.

Under the proposal, which was still being worked out, the bill would guarantee money for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan only through July, according to Democratic sources.

Under the plan, lawmakers would vote on another war funding bill after Congress received a report from the Bush administration in July on how much progress the Iraqi government had made on a series of benchmarks, including disarming militias and passing laws to share oil wealth. The second bill would fund the war through the end of September.

The federal government's new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The Democratic plan is coming together days after President Bush vetoed a $124 billion emergency spending bill that set a timeline for withdrawing troops. It faces substantial obstacles before it makes it to the president's desk.

Also yesterday, two Democratic senators - West Virginia's Robert C. Byrd and New York's Hillary Rodham Clinton - announced plans to press the Senate to revoke the resolution passed by Congress in 2002 that authorized the president to use force in Iraq.

Bush has insisted that he wants Congress to send him a war funding bill that does not impinge on his role as commander in chief and that pays for military operations through the end of the fiscal year.

Senate Democratic leaders have expressed reservations about funding wartime military operations for a few months at a time.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, met yesterday in his Capitol office with Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff.

Reid declined to say what Democrats would do next.

White House spokesman Tony Snow characterized the exchange as "a good meeting," but declined to discuss what had occurred.

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