After Bush vetoes Iraq bill...then what?

Chris Weigant: It looks like Bush <i>wanted</i> this veto...
Guest post by Chris Weigant first appeared on Huffington Post.

[Editor's note: Both the House and Senate have successfully passed an Iraq spending bill which includes a date for withdrawal; Bush appears ready to veto the legislation.]

While the legislative news on Iraq from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives is currently good, don't be deceived into thinking that the end of the Iraq war is just around the corner. Because, by momentarily reining in the Senate Republicans, Bush is inviting the Democrats' bill to come to his desk quickly for only one reason: so he can veto it just as quickly. So Democrats need to be prepared for what comes next.

A quick review of where things stand: Nancy Pelosi proved (once again) her political acumen by getting the votes in the House to pass a supplemental funding bill that would fund the military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of the fiscal year -- to the tune of $100 billion (with about $25 billion in extra pork, to gain votes) -- but with some serious strings on how the money could be spent. The Senate will soon pass their version of roughly the same bill (theirs has slightly different strings attached). Because the two versions are different, there will be a conference committee where the language will be tweaked until a single version of the bill emerges, presumably acceptable to both houses. This bill will then have to pass both those houses all over again, after which it will finally go to Bush's desk. Where (make no mistake) it will be vetoed. Bush actually appears eager to do so. What happens after this point is where things get interesting, which is why Democrats better have a solid plan of action ready to go. Bush's veto should be seen as a certainty, because of what just happened in the Senate. Since the Democrats took over, every Senate bill on Iraq has had to face a cloture vote (where the GOP threatens to filibuster, and 60 votes are needed to continue action on the bill). The Democrats have lost all of these votes, it should be noted, by various margins. But suddenly, Senate Republicans have politely decided to not use this parliamentary tool, meaning the Iraq war bill will require only a simple majority vote.

Why the tactical change? Republicans could have elected to shut this bill down the way they've been successfully shutting down all the others. So why allow this one to go through? The only logical answer is that Bush actually...
Chris Weigant is a freelance writer and political commentator.
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