The Iraq Supplemental spending bill and the Senate Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, March 27, 2007
You'll find a pdf copy of the House supplemental spending bill here. It is 168 pages long. I wanted to use that document because the Senate Minority Leader, Sen. McConnell, believes that regardless of what passes in the Senate (meaning even if Republicans are successful in removing much of the Iraq language), when the bills go to committee there will be a successful vote to accept the House's language. If you'd like to see the Senate version, go here.
First, a look at the language concerning the use and deployment of US troops to Iraq beginning in Chapter 9 on page 71:
CHAPTER 9 GENERAL PROVISIONS—THIS TITLE SEC. 1901. (a) Congress finds that it is Defense Department policy that units should not be deployed for combat unless they are rated ‘‘fully mission capable’’.
(b) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be used to deploy any unit of the Armed Forces to Iraq unless the chief of the military department concerned has certified in writing to the Committees on Appropriations and the Committees on Armed Services at least 15 days in advance of the deployment that the unit is fully mission capable.
(c) For purposes of subsection (b), the term ‘‘fully mission capable’’ means capable of performing assigned mission essential tasks to prescribed standards under the conditions expected in the theater of operations, consistent with the guidelines set forth in the Department of Defense readiness reporting system.
(d) The President, by certifying in writing to the committees on Appropriations and the Committees on Armed Services that the deployment to Iraq of a unit that is not assessed fully mission capable is required for reasons of national security and by submitting along with the certification a report in classified and unclassified form detailing the particular reason or reasons why the unit’s deployment is necessary despite the chief of the military department’s assessment that the unit is not fully mission capable, may waive the limitation prescribed in subsection (b) on a unit-by-unit basis.
SEC. 1902. (a) Congress finds that it is Defense Department policy that Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units should not be deployed for combat beyond 365 days or that Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve units should not be deployed for combat beyond 210 days.
(b) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act may be obligated or expended to initiate the development of, continue the development of, or execute any order that has the effect of extending the deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom of —
(1) any unit of the Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard beyond 365 days; or (2) any unit of the Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve beyond 210 days.
(c) The limitation prescribed in subsection (b) shall not be construed to require force levels in Iraq to be decreased below the total United States force levels in Iraq prior to January 10, 2007.
(d) The President, by certifying in writing to the committees on Appropriations and the Committees on Armed Services that the extension of a unit’s deployment in Iraq beyond the periods specified in subsection (b) is required for reasons of national security and by submitting along with the certification a report in classified and unclassified form detailing the particular reason or rea sons why the unit’s extended deployment is necessary, may waive the limitations prescribed in subsection (b) on a unit-by-unit basis.
The next section, written almost exactly as the first, limits redeployment of units which have been returned from OIF requiring a minimal time in CONUS (or their home bases in Germany or wherever) before they can be redeployed.
So you have the limits imposed on deployment which require "fully mission capable" units be sent or a waiver in writing submitted under Presidential signature, a limit on troops in country to the Jan 10, 2007 level (as you read the language, it allows that level and claims not to require forces below that level, but doesn't authorize troop strengths above that level - something, of course, which would cripple the surge) and no extensions of tours without another presidential certification that the extensions are for reasons of national security with a reason to justify the certification.
Now we get into the "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government beginning on page 75:
SEC. 1904. (a) The President shall make and transmit to Congress the following determinations, along with reports in classified and unclassified form detailing the basis for each determination, on or before July 1, 2007—
(1) whether the Government of Iraq has given United States Armed Forces and Iraqi Security Forces the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, and is making substantial progress in delivering necessary Iraqi Security Forces for Baghdad and protecting such Forces from political interference; intensifying efforts to build balanced security forces throughout Iraq that provide even-handed security for all Iraqis; ensuring that Iraq’s political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces; eliminating militia control of local security; establishing a strong militia disarmament program; ensuring fair and just enforcement of laws; establishing political, media, economic, and service committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan; and eradicating safe havens;
(2) whether the Government of Iraq is making substantial progress in meeting its commitment to pursue reconciliation initiatives, including enactment of a hydro-carbon law; adoption of legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections; reform of current laws governing the deBaathification process; amendment of the Constitution of Iraq; and allocation of Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects; and
(3) whether the Government of Iraq and United States Armed Forces are making substantial progress in reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq.
(b) On or before October 1, 2007, the President-
(1) shall certify to the Congress that the Government of Iraq has enacted a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis; adopted legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections, taken steps to implement such legislation, and set a schedule to conduct provincial and local elections; reformed current laws governing the de-Baathification process to allow for more equitable treatment of individuals affected by such laws; amended the Constitution of Iraq consistent with the principles contained in article 137 of such constitution; and allocated and begun expenditure of $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis; or
(2) shall report to the Congress that he is unable to make such certification.
(c) If in the transmissions to Congress required by subsection (a) the President determines that any of the conditions specified in such subsection have not been met, or if the President is unable to make the certification specified in subsection (b) by the required date, the secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq and complete such redeployment within 180 days.
(d) If the President makes the certification specified in subsection (b), the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq not later than March 1, 2008, and complete such redeployment within 180 days.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this or any other Act are immediately available for obligation and expenditure to plan and execute a safe and orderly redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq, as specified in sub-sections (c) and (d).
(f) After the conclusion of the 180-day period for redeployment specified in subsections (c) and (d), the Secretary of Defense may not deploy or maintain members of the Armed Forces in Iraq for any purpose other than the following:
(1) Protecting American diplomatic facilities and American citizens, including members of the U.S. Armed Forces. (2) Serving in roles consistent with customary diplomatic positions. (3) Engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach. (4) Training members of the Iraqi Security Forces.
This is an extremely important section to understand since it puts solid dates for "redeployment" into law based on whether or not accomplishments in Iraq have been made by the Iraqi government. Again, in either case, whether accomplishments have or haven't been made, this bill requires the withdrawal of US forces.
If, by October 1st of this year, certain things have not been "enacted", "amended", "appropriated", "adopted" or "reformed" (and the President must certify each), then the troops must be withdrawn within 180 days (the Senate version uses 120 days).
So in this case, the withdrawal date, set in law, would be April 1st 2008 (Feb 1, 2008 in the Senate version).
If, however, by some miracle, all of the above can be certified by October 1st, the withdrawal must begin no later than March 1, 2008. That would require final withdrawal be completed by September 1, 2008 (July 1, 2008 in the Senate version).
And what happens in November of 2008?
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot. Now you have a better understanding of the not so arbitrary nature of the dates involved.
Also note how any troops left in Iraq after either withdrawal date are extremely restricted in what they are allowed to do. Only 4 types of "duty" are allowed.
The point here is obvious. There is no real desire to see the mission in Iraq through to a successful conclusion. The requirements set out to be accomplished by Oct. 1 are almost impossible in the time-frame allotted and Democrats know that. While it is apparent that progress is indeed being made in most of those areas, the all or nothing certification requirement pretty much dooms a positive certification. 7 months will most likely not see all of them certifiably done. If we just consider the requirement to amend the constitution, we know from our own experience, that can take years.
So the October 1st deadline is the real deadline in this bill. And it is so timed, in my estimation, to short-circuit the surge if it is indeed showing success. If the requirement is to immediately begin the withdrawal, that will stop the surge in its tracks. October is the time when Gen. Petraeus told Congress he'd be able to tell them whether or not the surge was working. The date for certification now renders that moot.
If, somehow, they were to manage to do the impossible and actually deliver a positive certification on all of the items listed, then the next withdrawal date, regardless of the progress in Iraq or how close we are to success, will deliver the last of the troops home two months before the general election. Early enough that Democrats can claim credit but late enough that should Iraq begin to implode, the implosion will most likely not take place until after the general election.
So what you see here is the epitome of cynical political calculation. And it delivers for the Democrats on all fronts. If the president certifies to the negative in October, by law he must begin withdrawal and the surge is dead. At that point, if Iraq implodes, it's his fault.
If he can certify to the positive, he must begin withdrawal by March of '08. Perfect timing for the elections, the Democrats can take credit and if Iraq implodes it'll probably be after the election and too late for them to take responsibility, at least electorally.
All of that in addition to the fact that giving definite withdrawal timelines to your enemy is just plain stupid.
That brings us to the most cynical portion of this bill which begins on page 82 entitled "CONGRESSIONAL PLEDGE TO FULLY SUPPORT MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES IN HARM’S WAY":
(4) Members of the United States Armed Forces have served honorably in their mission to fight terrorism and protect the greater security of the United States.
(5) These members of the Armed Forces and their families have made many sacrifices, in many cases the ultimate sacrifice, to protect the security of the United States and the freedom Americans hold dear.
(6) Congress and the American people are forever grateful to the members of the Armed Forces for the service they have provided to the United States.
(b) FAITHFUL SUPPORT OF CONGRESS.—Congress will fully support the needs of members of the Armed Forces who the Commander in Chief has deployed in harm’s way in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and their families.
Give my fairly copious writing on the subject, I think most who read this blog know my reaction to this.
We then get to the BS section of the bill, to be crude, but not to be confused with the tub 'o lard section later on and featured yesterday in a post:
SEC. 1908. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS REGARDING PRESIDENT AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF AND CONGRESSIONAL POWER TO DECLARE WAR.
(a) It is the sense of Congress that Congress acknowledges the President as the Commander in Chief, and that role is granted solely to the President by article II, section 2, of the United States Constitution.
(b) It is further the sense of Congress that Congress has the power solely to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11, of the United States Constitution.
SEC. 1909. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING CONDUCT OF IRAQ WAR BY COMMANDERS.
It is the sense of Congress that, because the commanders of the United States Armed Forces in Iraq have the training, experience, and first-hand knowledge of the situation on the ground -
(1) the commanders should be allowed to conduct the war and manage the movements of the troops; and
(2) Congress should remain focused on executing its oversight role.
Really? So after screaming "listen to your generals, your generals have been saying they need more troops", now it is a function of Congress's "oversight role" to decide how many troops the general's need and for how long?
Excellent. Now you understand the "BS" label this nonsense deserves.
Take the time, if you have it, to read through this bill. Tell me honestly if what you see in this reflects your understanding of the proper constitutional role for Congress.
Also understand the politics of this thing ... the inside baseball that goes on. It is my understanding that Majority Leader Reid doesn't want this to be voted on this week. And the Senate is in recess next week, so it would be three weeks from now before a vote was taken. The supposed drop dead date for funding for Iraq is April 13th or 14th. The obvious intent here is to push the bill right up to or near the funding drop-dead date and then dare the president to veto it. Republican leadership in the Senate, then, is pushing for a vote this week so the expected veto can be rendered next week and a new bill stripped of the language the President doesn't want can be put together before the April date.
At one time in the recent past I was so fed up with the ineptitude of the Republicans that I was ready to jump ship if the Democrats had anything at all up their sleeve. The Republicans don’t look so bad when compared to garbage like this.
The surge, and the accompanying change in tactics, are exactly what the Dems have been screaming about for all this time. Any sane man would take at least a nominal bit of time to see if there was any chance of the surge to work. And now that the Administration has changed course, the Dems are ready to throw it out the window, declaring it a failure before it hardly begins.
I am afraid the Democrats are so afraid of their base, which has become the far left, they can’t seem to operate unless they are full speed ahead on this "cut & run" course they have chosen. They see Lieberman/Lamont and see the end of their paltry careers and cringe in fear. If they don’t cut & run they will be on the outs of Kos, DU, and my DD and folks of that ilk.
Once you look past all of this you can see the true integrity of a man like Joe lieberman, who stood up for his beliefs and the support of the troops and took on the likes of Lamont and the far left. And the rest of the Democratic Party should be ashamed of themselves if they have to be bribed to vote against their convictions.
I would like to see the Senate Republican throw this right back in their faces, but with the time constraints currently in place the smart thing may be to call a quick vote and let the President sharpen his Veto pen and throw it back at the Dems.
”Also understand the politics of this thing ... the inside baseball that goes on.”
Looks like a slow comment day, so I don’t mind grinding the same old axe again.
What irks me the most about activity like this is that the stupid liberals are totally unaware of it. They are making a buck, drinking latte, eating quiche or whatever and waiting for the NYT to tell them what they think. The Democrats can get away with this sort of thing because most of their voters won’t ever know about it. If they care at all about politics, they refuse to read or view any “rightwingnoisemachine” or Faux News sources and the MSM will describe this bill much differently than Mr. McQain did. That is why they are able to continue thinking that only those nasty Republicans are capable of cynical political trickery such as this.
And the smart liberals? I believe their thinking goes something like this: “Hey, what’s the difference if a few troops die due to our stopping Bush versus the same number who might die making him a success? Making Iraq a failure, whatever it takes, is key to the establishment of a progressive society in America.”