Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Friday, March 23, 2007
House Dem Watch
I haven't written about the ongoing battle in the House of Representatives between the so-called "progressive" Democrats and the Pelosi-led Democrats. It looks like Pelosi has cobbled together enough votes to pass the more moderate get-out-of-Iraq bill. Progressive Democrats are squealing that they are going to stand on principle (including my own rep., Lynn Woolsey).

I haven't given it much attention because the issue is a non-starter. It'll never get through the Senate and Bush will veto anything they do anyway. Still, I understand the position that it's important for at least one branch of government to take a stand of some kind. Above all, I don't think this particular version of the bill is worth Democrats chewing on each other. I don't see anything wrong with progressive Dems saying they'll vote for this bill while maintaining that stronger legislation is also needed.

We voters often criticize our reps for being unprincipled and overly pragmatic. But the fact is that no legislation ever gets passed without a fair amount of pragmatism. It is important to keep your eye on the form that pragmatism takes, i.e. there's a difference between trading your vote for a bridge to nowhere built by your lobbying interests vs. flexing your principles to advance your party's agenda, and your overall principles.

Given the cultural we live in, advancing a real get-out-of-Iraq bill is going to take time and patience. This bill certainly achieves political goals while advancing the agenda of stopping the war.

Update: Yep:
According to a source, three key House liberals -- Reps. Barabara Lee, Lynne Woolsey, and Maxine Waters -- privately approached Speaker Nancy Pelosi today and asked how many votes the leadership needed to pass the bill. They were told that four votes were needed.

The three then went to other liberal holdouts and encouraged them to support the bill, the source says. The source adds that the leadership is all but certain to now have the votes it needs. Lee explained her conversion this way in a press release just out from the liberals: "I have struggled with this decision, but I finally decided that, while I cannot betray my conscience, I cannot stand in the way of passing a measure that puts a concrete end date on this unnecessary war."