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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: No Surprise, Iraq Bill Draws Veto

Council on Foreign Relations

Updated: May 1, 2007
Prepared by: Robert McMahon

Almost instantly after their legislative victory linking Iraq war funding to a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops, Democratic lawmakers began looking at alternatives to their bill. The president's veto on Tuesday (NYT) made good on his promise to reject the war-funding bill as “defeatist legislation that insists on a date for surrender.” Yet public opinion surveys indicate solid public support (Pew) for a troop withdrawal timeline, emboldening congressional Democrats to press the president for a compromise.

So far the congressional Democrats have reflected a public mood that opposes the Iraq war but displays little clarity about how it should end, writes Elizabeth Drew in the New York Review of Books. “They have adopted the position that they aren't trying to end the war but to ‘refocus the mission’ so that American troops will be in less danger,” she writes. The Democrats’ ability to maneuver through the political standoff with President Bush will have repercussions both for the prosecution of the war, and for their party’s political prospects in the 2008 campaign. Democratic presidential aspirants in their first debate on April 26 all expressed eagerness to end the Iraq war, though they differed on the details. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) was the only major candidate who stated at the debate that he supports eventually cutting off funding (WashPost) for the war.

With signs that Republican patience on Iraq is ebbing, lawmakers from both major parties indicated they were in new territory regarding what to do next (SFChron). Congress has challenged presidents on wartime powers before, as this new Backgrounder notes, but rarely with such vitriol.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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