The Senate-approved Iraq policy proposal calls for _ but does not require _ the Bush administration to "explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq" and to provide reports on U.S. foreign policy and military operations in Iraq every three months until all U.S. combat brigades have been withdrawn.
The proposal calls 2006 a transition year in which Iraqi forces take over security of their country from U.S. forces to a far greater extent so the Americans can begin returning home.
Republicans largely adopted the Democratic proposal as their own, but they omitted one paragraph calling for the president to offer a plan for a phased withdrawal of the roughly 160,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq. The administration has refused to set a timetable for withdrawal, saying insurgents simply would wait to strike until after U.S. forces departed.
The good news, however, is that this measure doesn't have to be passed by Congress.
Also uncertain is whether there will even be a final defense bill that makes it to the president's desk, given that the bill is not a must-pass measure. It sets Pentagon policy and authorizes spending but doesn't actually provide the dollars.
Should we credit Senate GOP leaders with savvy political skills here? They managed to nix the withdrawal and while at the same time making it seem to a confused public that they're "doing something" regarding the "unpopular" war.
I would have preferred, however, that members of the President's party bolster his newly launched offensive against the lying liars and challenge Harry Reid et al on their memory of the facts.
I suppose that's asking too much.