Yesterday, many of our commenters here at Swampland seemed skeptical of the sources who told me that the Democratic leadership in Congress was ready to jettison the deadlines from the Iraq war funding bill:
Are these staffers sending out a trial balloon here? Are they trying to diminish expectations, so their bosses can do what they really want? Are these staffers trying to grab some power? If in fact it’s Steny Hoyer, is this a resentful move against those who ended up in power?
Paul Lukasiak also jumped to the conclusion that I had been talking to Steny Hoyer, and that he was freelancing:
The Democratic base will not permit a surrender on this issue. Corporate owned hacks like Hoyer might be willing to, but Pelosi and Reid know that there will be hell to pay if they fold.
As the lead story of this morning’s Washington Post reports, however, this is precisely what they have done.
UPDATE: Facing a backlash from their liberal members, Reid and Pelosi maintain that timetables are still on the table. The AP reports:
In a closed-door meeting Thursday with members, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., echoed Reid’s remark that Democrats have not agreed to drop language on troop withdrawals. Pelosi and Reid are trying to reassure more liberal members of their caucus that Democrats were not backing down. But privately, several Democrats have signaled they intend to do so to avoid a second veto and plan to focus their attention instead on upcoming spending bills.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Washington Post has now clarified its story, saying that the Democrats did not formally withdraw their timelines, but maintaining that they are no longer pushing a deadline. This is in line with what I reported, and what has been reported elsewhere. However, if that remains the strategy, it will probably mean the loss of significant liberal support for the legislation:
Correction to This Article
A May 3 Page One article about negotiations between President Bush and congressional Democrats over a war spending bill said the Democrats offered the first 9major concession by dropping their demand that the bill it include a deadline to bring troops home from Iraq. While Democrats are no longer pushing a firm date for troop withdrawals, party leaders did not specifically make that concession during a Wednesday meeting with Bush at the White House.