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At the very most, Congress should provide Bush only HALF the money he needs for his surge

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UPDATE: I just had an idea. In order to thwart Bush from making one of his infamous "signing statements," vitiating whatever restrictive language the Dems (and Republicans) might add to the money Congress provides for Bush's "surge," perhaps Congress should consider providing the money in two tranches. Pass legislation now for the first half of the money he wants. Then in six months, or three months, or whenever, review whether Bush has obeyed the conditions of the first piece of legislation, and if he has, pass a second piece of legislation providing him the second tranche of money he needs. Otherwise, he's going to simply disobey whatever conditions the Congress applies. The man spies on our phones and mail illegally, he tortures innocents illegally, he repeals habeas corpus, do we really think he's going to obey Congress on this one?

Halle-lujah. It's actually quite brilliant. Rather than simply denying Bush the funds he's asking for, the House Dems are talking about attaching benchmarks to the funds - if Bush doesn't meet the benchmarks, he doesn't get the money. Those benchmarks could include lots of things. Including real consultation with congress to a demand that the troops begin being withdrawn in six months. And let Bush veto the Dems' proposal. Then he vetos the money he needs to escalate.

The open question at the moment is Senate Democrats. No word on whether they'll agree to this. If they don't, we'd like to hear a very good reason why. After all, even conservative Republican Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) is now against the Bush escalation proposal. Brownback is running for president. If a conservative Republican thinks he can only win election by opposing Bush's escalation, one would hope the Dems would agree. Now is not the time for timidity.

Senior House Democrats said yesterday that they will attempt to derail funding for President Bush's proposal to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, setting up what could become the most significant confrontation between the White House and Congress over military policy since the Vietnam War....

Those plans could attach so many conditions and benchmarks to the funds that it would be all but impossible to spend the money without running afoul of the Congress. "Twenty-one thousand five hundred troops ought to have 21,500 strings attached to them," said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.).

Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said Democratic leaders have made no decision to hold back funds, but he added: "We are not going to give the president a blank check. We will subject any proposal to escalate the war to harsh scrutiny, and we will set benchmarks he has to attain to get that money."

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