The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill today that sets an April 2008 deadline for withdrawing (in theory) most combat troops from Iraq. The bill passed by a margin of 223-201.
In reality the bill would have little effect even if president Bush signed it, since it allows for troops necessary to protect the troops training the Iraqis, troops necessary to protect US facilities, including the Green Zone embassy, and troops necessary to fight terrorists. Since the administration would be in charge of deciding what numbers those requirements entail, and since the administration already says that everyone who is shooting at us is a terrorist, you can see how we’d need pretty much the same number of troops in April of next year, or possibly more if conditions deteriorate, as we’ve had there all along.
But that’s not what caught my eye in the San Francisco Chronicle story on the legislation and its chances for passage in the Senate.
Here’s what Chronicle writer Edward Epstein had to say about that.
The legislation sponsored by Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., is similar to a Senate proposal by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Jack Reed, D-R.I. Both proposals face a tough fight to gain the necessary 60 votes in the Senate, but the White House said Thursday that if either ever reached his desk, President Bush would veto it.
The Senate works just like the House: it requires a simple majority to pass a bill, 51 votes if everyone shows up. What Epstein is talking about is the number of votes necessary to end a filibuster and bring a bill up for a vote. Republicans have so routinely resorted to the filibuster that Epstein doesn’t even consider the possibility that they might allow a simple majority vote on the legislation. No: even getting to vote on a bill now requires the approval of everyone on the majority side plus ten Republicans.
And the worst part is that a filibuster, which once required actually holding the floor and talking non-stop, is now just a matter of announcing that you’re refusing to allow a vote.
They should at least have to work for it.