The Arkansas Democrat is a key holdout on his party’s proposal to approve $122 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while setting a goal of March 31, 2008, for winding up military operations in Iraq. Unlike the plan’s Republican opponents, Pryor wants a withdrawal deadline of some kind. He just doesn’t want anyone outside the White House, Congress and the Iraqi government to know what it is…
Pryor said a classified plan would be provided by the president, shepherded by Senate committees and ultimately shared with Congress and Iraqi leaders. He is confident that the plan would remain secret, because Congress is entrusted with secrets “all the time.”
What if the president’s withdrawal plan didn’t include a deadline? Or what if it leaked, through leaders in Iraq, to insurgents? [Or what if insurgents happen to notice there are significantly fewer U.S. troops on the streets? — ed.]
All worth considering, Pryor said. But in the meantime, “at least you’d have a plan.”
“At least you’d have a plan.” This is the guy who’s going to decide if the bill passes or not.
A note about yesterday’s post. Captain Ed thinks a veto will, in fact, be quicker than a GOP filibuster, which is important given that time is of the essence right now in funding Iraq operations. A tipster e-mailed me this morning, though, to say that the preference for the veto probably has more to do with keeping responsibility for the funding with the Democrats. If the GOP filibusters, Reid and Pelosi will blame Republicans for having stalled the process by which money gets to the troops. If, on the other hand, the bill goes straight to Bush’s desk and is vetoed, the ball is back in the Dems’ court to come up with an alternative.
Ed points out that we’ve got a better than fair shot of killing the Senate bill on a straight up or down vote, which is the quickest and most humiliating (to the left), and therefore probably best, option.
Update: NZ Bear put the whole damned thing online. Note that while page 25 leaves the date of final withdrawal open (with a recommendation of March 31, 2008), it seems to require that withdrawal begin within 120 days of passage.
Update: CNN’s reporting that the GOP amendment that would have eliminated the withdrawal provisions from the Senate bill has failed by two votes. That means it’s likely to pass, although there’s still a chance Pryor is going to balk at the fact that the timetable is non-secret.
I’ll post the roll when it’s up, but I’m 99% sure it’s a straight party line vote.
Update: Surprise — it wasn’t Pryor who cast vote #50. It was Chuck “Fredo” Hagel.
Follow the link and see how ridiculously the AP is hyping a story about a bill that will be dead in days. They’ve even got a breaking news banner up for it.
Update: Here’s the roll. Pryor voted with the GOP; Hagel’s was the deciding vote.