House: Bush administration must deliver (but not implement) a plan for withdrawal

 In Iraq

Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill offered by Representatives Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and John Tanner (D-TN) requiring the Secretary of Defense to present a plan for withdrawing combat forces from Iraq within 60 days.  Following the initial report, the administration will have to report back every 90 days, but would not need to specify a timeline for withdrawal or implement any of the plans delivered to Congress.

Earlier attempts to hold a vote on the bill were blocked by anti-war Democrats who did not want to give Republicans political cover by allowing them to vote for a weak bill that did not actually require a change in strategy in Iraq.  Out of Iraq Caucus leader Rep. Lynn Woolsey called the vote “a day late and a buck short.”  Rep. Abercrombie, however, stuck with his idea that the vote was a significant step: "I think this bill is the crucial fulcrum, the key, the tipping point for pulling out of Iraq.”  Sen. Harry Reid has been blocking votes on weaker compromise bills, and did not indicate whether he would give the Abercrombie-Tanner bill a vote in the Senate.

Meanwhile, three leading House Democrats, David Obey (D-WI), John Murtha (D-PA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) said that they will not pass President Bush’s funding request without a significant change in Iraq policy, and proposed a temporary surtax to fund the continuing costs of the occupation.  This suggestion does not have much traction with the leadership, however, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi stating, "Some have suggested that shared sacrifice should take the form of a draft; others have suggested a surtax. Those who oppose a tax and the draft also should oppose the President’s war. Just as I have opposed the war from the outset, I am opposed to a draft and I am opposed to a war surtax."

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