We've written before on the plan by Congressional Democrats to turn the page on the Iraq funding debate, and instead talk about... Iraq funding. Today it's reported that as the Senate takes up the annual defense authorization bill next week, the first amendment to be considered will be offered by Senator Webb, to ensure that servicemen and women have appropriate time at home between deployments:
Webb's amendment, the first provision to be debated next week as the Senate takes up the authorization bill, will likely face opposition by the administration. The White House several months ago vetoed the 2007 war emergency bill partly on grounds that Congress should not etch into law deployment and dwell times, which the administration says would curtail commanders' flexibility on the battlefield.
The amendment could be the first in a long list of provisions likely to attract a presidential veto of the 2008 defense authorization bill. Following Webb's amendment, the Senate is expected to take up new Iraq troop withdrawal provisions; changes to last year's Military Commissions Act; and a provision to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay.
As part of his effort to build support for this amendment, Senator Webb first participated in a conference call with liberal blogs. TPM Cafe covered the call:
Webb's move will be controversial: if attached to the defense bill, the White House will likely portray it as a backdoor measure to reduce troop levels, since the increased dwell time will prevent recently-returned troops from relieving units rotating out of Iraq. While Webb said he hadn't worked out the exact size of the force that would become available in Iraq if his amendment passes, he signaled his readiness for the White House's response.
"If it does result in fewer troops, I would support that, anyway," Webb said in response to a question from TPM. "We've reached the point where we've burned these troops out. Our operational policies change from month to month, and it's time for us to stop."
With their approval ratings in the basement, Democrats in Washington are offering more of the same--more debate about Iraq which will not affect the ongoing mission in any way other than to give a morale boost to our enemies (who clearly need it). They've even re-debuted the same old 'slow bleed' strategy for Iraq, in much the same way that John Murtha debuted it in February.