Let the Showdown Begin
The president has threatened to veto a war spending bill that includes a timetable for the withdrawal of troops, but that didn’t stop the Senate on Thursday from passing one. The next step is for the House and Senate to work out the differences between their competing withdrawal plans, and then it’s off to the White House.
The 51-47 vote fell mostly along party lines, with two Republicans — Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Gordon Smith (Ore.) — joining Democrats in support of the package, which would fund U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Democrats also attached language that would start troop withdrawals within 120 days of passage, with a March 31, 2008, goal for completing combat operations in Iraq. Some troops could remain in Iraq after that deadline in order to conduct counterterrorism training and security operations.
The House approved stricter withdrawal terms in its spending package, approved last week. That bill would set a firm deadline of Aug. 31, 2008, for the removal of U.S. combat forces.
President Bush has strongly protested the withdrawal language in both the House and Senate bills, along with $20 billion in emergency domestic spending in the Senate measure, and has repeatedly warned that he intends to veto the package if the offending provisions aren’t dropped.