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The White House and Republican leaders may think that they will have dodged the majority of the American people when George W. Bush vetoes the recently-passed war-funding bill containing a provision mandating withdrawal from Iraq but, as they so often are, they will be mistaken.
In anticipation of a Bush veto and the likelihood that they won't be able to summon enough Republicans who care about the troops or public opinion sufficiently to override that veto, Senate Democrats are already rolling out a contingency plan that puts the GOP on notice about something very important: That they are going to be forced over and over again to be on the record as voting to strand our military men and women in the middle of a bloody civil war.
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), long one of the gutsy leaders on the Democratic side of the Senate aisle, has announced that he will propose legislation immediately on return from this week's break that will cut off all funding for the Iraq war in less than a year.
Upping the ante on another major showdown immediately following the expected Bush veto of the war-funding (and withdrawal) bill, is the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) supports the Feingold measure and has signed on as the bill's first cosponsor.
"I am pleased to cosponsor Senator Feingold's important legislation," Reid said. "I believe it is consistent with the language included in the supplemental appropriations bill passed by a bipartisan majority of the Senate. If the President vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period."
The Feingold legislation would take the withdrawal language passed last week a step further by not just calling for a withdrawal of troops, but actually cutting off money for the war effort, thus forcing Bush's hand.
With only three narrow exceptions to the directive, the bill states that redeployment of U.S. forces must begin within 120 days of enactment and, more importantly, that "no funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008."
"I am delighted to be working with the Majority Leader to bring our involvement in the Iraq war to an end," said Feingold, in a statement. "Congress has a responsibility to end a war that is opposed by the American people and is undermining our national security. By ending funding for the President's failed Iraq policy, our bill requires the President to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq."
The Senate is in recess this week but it is expected that Senator Feingold will formally propose his legislation on the first day of the next work session, April 10.
"This is the next significant step toward ending this war," Feingold said in an interview over the weekend. "Congress can't afford to be characterized as backing down at this point. . . . If he [Bush] vetoes it, he's basically challenging us to accept his will."
You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.
Update: I have the full text -- short and sweet -- of the Feingold-Reid legislation here.