Dems weigh new attempt to change course of Iraq war

Provision could be attached to the Defense spending bill, in a move some say is risky.

House Democratic leaders are considering votes next month on another legislative package aimed at changing course in Iraq, and might announce those plans this week, aides said Monday.

One Democratic leadership aide said no decision has been made regarding whether the plan would be announced before lawmakers leave at the end of the week for the July Fourth recess. But several sources who attended Monday afternoon's weekly meeting of Democratic press aides said that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office made clear that the announcement could come quickly. The Iraq language would be attached to the Defense appropriations bill.

Aides with knowledge of the internal caucus debate over how to proceed said the plan is likely to involve a series of votes that could involve some modified form of the troop withdrawal measure voted on by the House during the supplemental debate earlier this year, as well as legislation reversing congressional approval for military operations in the country.

One Democratic aide who attended the meeting said there is a danger in not waiting until fall to readdress the war issue, as had been anticipated. While it may poll well, the Iraq conflict represents a situation that cannot be controlled. "Ultimately, the Congress is not going to have any real impact short of yanking the funding," said the aide. "And I just don't see that happening yet."

Announcing such a move prior to the recess would be a clear political gambit for Democrats hoping to get more mileage over the break from an issue that has fallen out of the headlines since President Bush vetoed a war funding bill that contained a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw and signed a version of the bill in which that language was excluded.

A Republican leadership aide dismissed any potential announcement as a political stunt and suggested in would backfire. "It would be ironic if Democrats decided to celebrate this Independence Day with a resolution to retreat on the biggest fight for freedom in the 21st Century," the aide said.