House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip James Clyburn are having a hell of a time convincing rebellious Democrats to support the new Iraq spending bill. Conservative “blue dogs” don’t like the readiness requirements and withdrawal timetable, while House progressives object to spending “another dollar or another dime to support this war.”
One of the Democrats’ chief designated vote counters, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), is actively working against the Iraq war spending bill. The leadership’s senior chief deputy whip, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), spoke passionately against it on the House floor. And one of the whip organization’s regional representatives, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), is implacably opposed.
The disarray in the House whipping operation ahead of tomorrow’s expected vote on the bill is putting a harsh spotlight on House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who has the task of rounding up the 218 votes needed to pass the $124 billion measure, but who has not even kept his organization in line.
“There’s only one test, and that will be whether we get 218 on the board on Thursday,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who predicted that Clyburn will come through with the votes.
But the failings of his organization are resurrecting fears that the courtly Southern gentleman is simply too nice for a job known for head-banging, punishment and retribution.