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Progressive Democrats may endorse 'short leash' Iraq war funding strategy
Michael Roston
Published: Friday April 20, 2007
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Progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives, some of whom voted against a supplemental funding bill to bankroll the war in Iraq, may change tactics and support a "short leash" budget if President George W. Bush vetoes a bill Congress could pass next week.

An aide to a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told RAW STORY that the idea of providing the president with 60 days of funding for the war in Iraq, and then forcing him to return to Congress and seek more funding, appealed to some progressives.

"There's definitely some support for that," the aide said. "From our standpoint, the war keeps getting worse, and the American public will continue moving in the direction of turning against the war."

The aide said that while Congressional progressives had not decided if they would seek restrictions on the President's war powers in place of an unconditional 60-day extension, the tactic made political sense.

"It's a political calculus: if you give them the money, and it's going to continue to get worse, our hand against the President will be strengthened," the progressive aide added. "From our perspective, the more votes we force them to take, the better off we are."

The offices of several Democratic leaders had no comment as they told RAW STORY that the focus continued to be on completing a bill to send to the White House. The President has emphatically said he will veto either the Senate or House versions of the war funding bills. Members of both chambers will take up the legislation on Monday to produce a compromise bill.

If a 60-day "short leash" on the war is promoted, progressives may find some common cause with the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, many of whom opposed the progressives' more strident calls for withdrawal from Iraq.

"We ought to give him a clean bill that’s 60 days,” Rep Allen Boyd (D-FL), a Blue Dog Coalition co-chair told CQ Today on Wednesday. "It continues the debate on the policy."

The passage of a 60-day funding bill is not without precedent. A scholar of executive-legislative relations told RAW STORY that a similar mechanism was used by Congress to wind down the Vietnam War.

"In 1973 when President Nixon vetoed a funding cut off for military operations in Southeast Asia, he did ultimately enter into negotiations with Congress to permit bombing for another 45 days," said Dr. Louis Fisher, who serves as special assistant to the Law Librarian at the Library of Congress. "And then that was the end of the money, so even if he wants to do a veto, it doesn't mean it would prevail."