As expected the House failed to overide the Presidential veto of its bill linking war funding to a timetable for troop withdrawl.
Minutes later, in a previously scheduled meeting, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders discussed the standoff with President Bush at the White House, pledging at least to try to forge a compromise.
“We made our position clear. He made his position clear,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters after the meeting with the president. “Now, it is time for us to try to work together, to come together.”
“But make no mistake,” she said, signaling a very tough road ahead, “Democrats are committed to ending this war.”
Of course they did, they have to compromise. Even if this is to their own ruin with the more polarizing (we shall be restrained and not use radical) elements of the Democratic Caucas, the leadership and what remains of the semi-centrist Democratic Party realizes that with its majority status comes responsibility to participate in governance. Welcome to the reality. What is more concerning to the DNC is that their caucas may show signs of weakening already as seven Representatives broke from the Party while only two GOP Representatives joined Democrats.
“Yesterday was a day that highlighted differences. Today is a day where we can work together to find common ground,” Bush said. “I will inform the speaker and the leader of our serious intent.”
Bush then named his chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, national security adviser Stephen Hadley and budget director Rob Portman to work out a compromise with congressional leaders.
Bolten plans to meet with Senate leaders on Thursday. Other meetings with House leaders are also being planned.
Portman, a former Ohio congressman, already has been talking privately with House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.).
Obey has floated a few alternative proposals, including a quick vote on an Iraq funding bill with benchmarks but no withdrawal timeline. He has suggested holding a separate vote on a U.S. pullout after a new funding bill is enacted, a move that would help Pelosi and Reid reassure anti-war lawmakers that their concerns over ongoing military conflict in Iraq are being heard.
The benchmarks along with future votes for pulling out totally are the most likely outcome. Benchmarks in themselves are a reasonable compromise that the Administration and most GOP lawmakers could abide with. The Administration has also stated at times that benchmarks be a part of the process, so this is nothing new, and this would allow both sides to claim a victory of sorts, The Administration and GOP Caucas could say that they held their ground and the Dem Caucas saying they are holding the Administration and Iraq accountable.
The only group which would be left out, would be the harder anti-war left. However, that is the Democratic base, and will likely create a severe case of infighting in their own party.
Governance is a bitch.