Democrats won't stop funding war, leader says, but no more 'blank checks' for Bush
The Senate still is not ready to do everything in its power to end the war in Iraq by completely eliminating war funds, but it is determined not to give President Bush a "blank check" to continue occupying the country either, Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Friday.
Appearing on the Ed Schultz Show, Reid blamed Democrats' inability to affect a course change in Iraq on the party's tenuous majority in the Senate.
But with a renewed debate over war funding coming next week, he said they were committed to passing a war funding bill that would require a troop redeployment begin immediately and have all but a "limited number" of troops out of Iraq by June.
"We're not going to give him a blank check on that, believe me," Reid vowed. "We're going to put conditions [on] any money that is given. ... We're going to fight as we have every step of the way."
The majority leader acknowledged that Democrats have the power to simply refuse to fund the war, which would force a de facto withdrawal, but he argued that such an approach would be wrongheaded.
"Sure we have the power on anything to stop the money. That's what it's all about; that's why we have three separate branches of government," Reid said. "But the thing we have to do is make sure we do it the right way. It's not a question of all or nothing, it's a question of making sure we do the right thing."
Reid said he and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) were crafting a bill that would force the president to being pulling out troops. While he acknowledged that Democrats did not yet have the support of 60 senators necessary to break a filibuster, Reid predicted they would be able to garner the necessary support before a bill went to a vote.
Schultz called on Reid to go father and cut of all funding, arguing that a majority of the American people want to see an end to the war.
"The American people want the war stopped, you can say a lot about 60 votes senator, but the public's with you," Schultz said. "If you go to the floor or call a press conference and say, 'It's over, you're not getting any more money,' there would be a groundswell of support."
Reid said even Feingold -- one of the Senate's most ardent war opponents -- was not calling to cutoff funding completely, and he said the Senate needed to approve some more money, just far less than the nearly $200 billion the president has asked for.
"We can't just walk away," Reid scolded, "and nobody suggests we can."
The following audio is from The Ed Schultz Show, broadcast on October 25, 2007.