Democrats' New Iraq Funding Bill Drops Timeline

Congressional Democratic leaders seem to have blinked in the staredown with President Bush over a bill to fund four more months of the Iraq war. There has been no formal announcement yet of a deal with the White House.

But Democrats say their bill no longer contains a timeline for troop withdrawal — a point that prompted a veto of earlier legislation.

Speaking outside the Senate chamber, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tried to put the best face on the latest version of the war-funding bill. He did this without actually revealing what was in that bill.

"We don't know what the language will be on this for sure," Reid said, "but it's for certain it'll be the first supplemental that he has, that he hasn't been given a blank check."

The bill may not be a blank check, but what the Democrats plan to present, according to a top leadership aide, is a war-funding plan that Reid only last week dismissed as "weak tea."

That proposal, sponsored by John Warner (R-VA), would set benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, but allow the president to waive any sanctions if they're not met.

It would also require more progress reports on Iraq along with independent evaluations of the situation there, but has no timelines. Reid acknowledged that those proposals could all make it into the final bill.

Still, Reid said there will be other occasions soon to challenge the president on the war. He then promised that Congress will get the war-funding bill to the President by week's end.

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