I'm finishing up a piece about Congress's thinking on intervention in Iraq, and how this has been colored by being lied to 12 years ago. From talking to members and senators yesterday, I got the strong impression that Congress was ready to punt on most of the hard decisions. There was little desire for a full vote unless the president was asking for a commitment that could last years, or could go into Syria. Most people, when asked about a vote, seemed to be looking for a way around it.
"It’s always wise to do that," shrugged Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, "although I always tend to give the president leeway in these matters. It’s a tough job, being president."
The pattern was this: Republicans would explain why a feckless and failing President Obama let Iraq fall to pieces, and then commit to supporting (with or without a vote) an action that made sense. Jonathan Weisman has the latest on what the president wants. This week, he called up House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rodgers to ask that the CR that was to be voted on tomorrow be padded with funds for Syrian fighters. Ed O'Keefe talked to Rodgers:
They've known about this problem for over a year, they've known that we were getting to do a [spending bill] and just as I was ready to drop it in the hopper, the president calls and asks if we would consider this. In good faith, we're trying to get briefed up on what the request is, and it's a complicated, big-time change in policy that I'd hate to see us attach to a continuing resolution at the very last minute.
See the pattern? Obama screwed up; here's his money. There's no detectable conservative rebellion to this aspect of the CR. There's not much grumbling about the $5 billion counterterrorism fund that Obama's been asking for. Rather, conservatives (including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, who do this so frequently that I need to install a keyboard shortcut) are calling for the CR to be stripped of Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, or they'll oppose the thing.