As promised, President Bush vetoed Congress' $124 billion emergency supplemental yesterday, sending congressional Democrats back to the drawing board on the crucial spending legislation.
Since the president largely rejected bill because of its Oct. 1 deadline for beginning troop withdrawal, congressional leaders are now discussing new legislation that would remove the timetables but include specific benchmarks created to urge Iraqi leaders to reduce the violence. Increasingly perturbed by the president but unwilling to back a withdrawal plan, Republicans in the House and Senate seem primed to support a plan that includes benchmarks for Iraq's government, the LA Times speculates.
CNN reports: "'I do think there are some kinds of benchmarks that might well achieve bipartisan support and might actually even conceivably be helpful to the effort in Iraq,' the Kentucky Republican [Senator Mitch O'Connell] said. 'And that's what we're going to be looking for.'"
The benchmarks being discussed include passing laws on revenue sharing for oil output, national reconciliation, and sectarian violence. Interestingly, these are measures that President Bush himself has repeatedly urged Iraq's government to undertake.
The question remains as to how long the new legislation will take to be drafted, passed and implemented. As our leaders here in Washington continue to debate the bill -- and, as many argue, they continue to play out their partisan theatrics -- 100,000s of Iraqis continue to suffer. In addition to supporting our troops, the bill provides desperately-needed funds for relief and aid for millions of Iraqi families. While EPIC is urging Congress and President Bush to increase funding for this important work, we are also articulating the need to implement this legislation in a timely and efficient manner -- keeping partisan politics off the table.
After all, every day that passes means countless more innocent lives lost.