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The Binds of Binding Resolutions

Today the Senate is set to failed to second the House's rebuke of President Bush's surge plan and suffered a repeat of the filibuster that killed their debate last week.

But while the Senate may waffle over whether or not to scold Bush over his Iraq strategy, there are some who are looking beyond the non-binding resolutions toward implementing something with a little more bite.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) yesterday linked her support for President Bush's war-funding request to strict standards of resting, training and equipping combat forces, a move that could curtail troop deployments and alter the course of U.S. involvement in Iraq...

Congressional Democrats signaled a willingness to directly challenge and curtail Bush's warmaking powers, a move that will almost certainly spark a legal or constitutional confrontation. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), a Pelosi ally, is rewriting the president's spending request to limit Bush's options in prosecuting the war, and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he will seek to repeal the 2002 congressional authorization for Bush to wage war in Iraq and substitute legislation that would narrow the mission of troops there and begin to bring some home.

Biden's approach of rescinding the 2002 AUMF is rather laughable since even he points out that the resolution itself is irrelevant to the current situation. One way to tell that Jack Murtha's approach has the GOP worried is because it is already being decried as the "slow bleed" strategy. A rather inappropriate description given the hemorrhaging our armed forces are suffering under the current strategy, a problem which a surge is only likely to exacerbate.

Murtha's plan calls for attaching certain conditions to the upcoming supplemental spending bills, some of which include:

1. Setting a high standard for training and equipping of troops being sent to the front lines.
2. Limiting the number of deployments per soldier.
3. Mandating at least one year's downtime between such deployments.

There are many things to like about this approach. For starters, it forces Republicans to put their votes where their "support the troops" mouths are. Because the provisions are to be attached to bills to pay for the war, the GOP is unlikely to kill the entire bill (nor is the President likely to veto it). And if they try to kill the provisions themselves, they risk sending the message that they don't care how unprepared, under equipped and over deployed our forces are.

Of course this approach is not without risks for the Democrats. But with a public that is far ahead of Congress on the issue of our involvement in Iraq, I suspect Americans will be far more forgiving of Democrats if they were to offer up something more binding.

More from McJoan and BooMan.

Update: Still more from Michael J.W. Stickings, The Talking Dog, Nicholas Rivera, Shaun Mullen, and Hilzoy.

(Filed at State of the Day)