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Democrats’ Supplemental Ties War Spending to ‘Progress’ in Iraq

House Democrats today unveiled a complex war supplemental requiring President Bush to certify progress on the political and security fronts in Iraq, and called for a “strategic” redeployment of U.S. troops by next summer.

During a press briefing this morning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) attempted to explain the benchmark provisions several times to a confused press corps.

According to the Speaker, the supplemental legislation contains three milestone dates, the first occurring in July when President Bush must certify that progress is being made in Iraq. Pelosi acknowledged that “progress” would be a subjective term when the administration releases its findings. If the president does not demonstrate progress in Iraq by July, then the Pentagon must begin redeploying U.S. troops.

By October of this year, Iraq must meet “full performance” of the supplemental’s required benchmarks, which include oil revenue sharing and constitutional reforms to allow Sunni’s more participation in the Iraqi government.

“No matter what, by March 2008, the redeployment begins,” Pelosi said.

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) told reporters that the legislation mandates a full redeployment by August 2008, even under the best-case scenario.

Obey and Defense Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) outlined some funding items, saying that they have added $1.4 billion above the president’s request for base housing allowances, and $2.5 billion for port and border security initiatives. Obey and Murtha also said that they have redirected funding to fighting al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

Pelosi voiced her confidence that, in the end, Democrats will “unify” around the proposal, adding that several members of the left-leaning Out of Iraq Caucus have signed onto the supplemental.

During a subsequent press conference, House Minority Leader Boehner (R-Ohio) voiced his opposition to the Democrats’ supplemental, saying that “Republicans are not going to vote to tie the hands of the generals on the ground.”

When asked if he can defeat the bill, Boehner replied, “We can.”

At the posting of this article we were awaiting the House Appropriations Committee’s breakdown of the supplemental. We will provide a more thorough analysis in today’s final bulletin.

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