In an interview with ThinkProgress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said publicly for the first time that an upcoming defense spending bill will include votes on several key Iraq amendments, including a timeline for withdrawing U.S. forces.
The Senate is expected to take up the 2008 defense authorization bill in a matter of weeks. Reid said yesterday that the legislation will have amendments covering a timeline as well as readiness standards for U.S. soldiers sent into combat. He also promised another vote on the Reid-Feingold legislation that removes virtually all U.S. forces from Iraq by April 1, 2008.
Similar provisions were stripped from the emergency war spending bill signed last month by President Bush. But Reid said the new push would be different. “We’re going to focus the defense authorization bill on things that we couldn’t” with the emergency Iraq supplemental, Reid said, “because on the supplemental, the president kind of had us over the barrel, because it was the funding of the troops. He doesn’t have us over the barrel on the defense authorization.” Watch it:
REID: The escalation, of course, is not working. We see that with the death of five more soldiers yesterday in Iraq. We have a report coming out July 15 which will be a help to us. It’s a benchmark, we’ll see what happens with that.
We’re going to take up the defense authorization bill, which will have amendments on it — timelines, readiness. We’re going to focus the defense authorization bill on things that we couldn’t, because on the supplemental, the president kind of had us over the barrel, because it was the funding of the troops. He doesn’t have us over the barrel on the defense authorization. We’re going to set some standards for the defense authorization, starting it on the first day of October of this year.
Of course, we’re going to renew the Reid-Feingold amendment again, saying that there should be a transition of mission and we should be out of there, out of Iraq, on April 1, except for counterterrorism, force protection, training Iraqis.