House Dems don't have the votes for their Iraq bill -- yet

The vote’s Thursday and they’re still short. Barely.

A House Democrat close to the leadership said there are now a dozen Democrats squarely against the bill — about half of them liberals and half of them conservatives — with another eight opponents seen as persuadable. If Republicans stay united, Democrats can afford to lose only 15 members. A few Republicans are undecided and could side with the Democrats, but they are not likely to announce their support ahead of the vote.

They’re pulling out all the stops to push it through, enlisting elder statesmen to endorse it, larding it up with pork to bribe the holdouts, and strong-arming everyone else who can’t be romanced or bought off:

One congressman, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution from leaders, bristled at how aggressively he was being pressured to vote for the bill, singling out Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as especially forceful.

“I really resent this,” the lawmaker said. “Rahm Emanuel told us a vote against this bill is a vote to give the Republicans victory.”

The congressman also noted that Democratic leaders had “made clear” to him that they might yank funding requests he had made for projects in his district if he did not support the measure.

Bush will veto it in the unlikely event that it makes it past the Senate, so all this exertion is part passion play for the nutroots’ benefit and part maneuvering to force Bush to pull the trigger on it so they can then blame him for denying the troops the funds they need. It’s a waste of time but politics is politics.

They locked up the endorsement they really needed yesterday; that should be good enough to cow a few recalcitrant anti-war Dems into supporting the measure. But even here, there’s a bit of orchestration:

Some anti-war activists assailed’s approach to the Iraq bill, alleging that the organization had used a skewed poll to conclude that 85 percent of its members backed the measure.

“MoveOn put out a dishonest poll that did not offer its members a real choice to end the war, and now the peace movement is lobbying activists to reform MoveOn or drop off its list,” David Swanson, a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, said in an e-mail to The Politico. “I unsubscribed from MoveOn this morning.”

In the poll, gave its members a choice of supporting, opposing or being “not sure” of the plan proposed by the Democratic leadership, according to an e-mail sent to members Sunday by official Eli Pariser.

It did not mention a more aggressive withdrawal proposal backed by Woolsey, Waters and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

Exit question: Is Rahm the new Hammer?

Update: Politico says they’re short 14 at the moment.

Update: Hammertime:

As for [Maxine] Waters, action may not come until after the House votes on the Iraq bill, but aides close to Pelosi made it clear that there will be consequences for a chief deputy whip working against the leadership she had sworn to help on tough votes.

“Let’s just say, the speaker has taken notice,” one aide said.

How could she not?