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February 12, 2007

House This Week: Minimum Wage, Iraq

Minimum Wage

Wheels in Motion for House's Small-Business Tax Package
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the green light today to a fast-moving small-business tax package set to be marked up by Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., next week and taken quickly to the House floor.

Iraq

House to Get Up-or-Down Vote on Iraq Troop Buildup
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today said the House will consider a non-binding resolution to give members an up-or-down vote on President Bush’s buildup of 21,500 combat troops in Iraq and address the issue of war funding later.

House Democrats Reach Accord on Debate Over War Resolution
House Democrats agreed yesterday to debate a straightforward, nonbinding resolution that rejects President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, but they will also allow Republicans to bring their own war-related measure to the floor.

Hoyer Puts Republicans in a Bind Over War
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, in a reversal, says the upcoming debate over the Iraq war will be limited to arguing over President Bush's escalation of the military campaign.

GOP Expects Defections as House Debates Iraq Resolution
Three days of intense debate over the Iraq war begins in the House today, with Democrats planning to propose a narrowly worded rebuke of President Bush's troop buildup and Republicans girding for broad defections on their side.

Monday, February 12, 2007, 7:07 AM PST
WASHINGTON (AP) House Democrats are pushing forward with a resolution that would express disapproval with President Bush's war buildup in Iraq.

War Opponents' Influence Growing
No longer easily dismissed as a leftist fringe, the “Out of Iraq Caucus” now includes one-third of House Democrats and in many ways is driving the debate that will take place this week.

First glance
NBC's Mike Viqueira notes, House Democrats had promised Republicans a vote on an alternative resolution of their choice, but that's not going to happen. Unlike the Senate, the majority in the House can do virtually anything it wants, procedurally speaking. Republicans are protesting angrily, but this is how the House works, prior Democratic pledges of procedural fairness notwithstanding.

The resolution itself will be simply worded; will express a sense of the House that Bush's policy is not the correct course; and will contain an expression of support for US troops, Viq reports. There will be no mention of funding the troop increase, pro or con. The resolution is being billed by Democrats as "a straight up-or-down vote" on the increase.

Debate is expected to begin on Tuesday around 12 noon. Each of the 435 members will be allowed to take up to five minutes to speak on the floor. Democratic leaders say that debate will stretch until midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, and possibly Thursday, with a vote on Friday, but this timetable is fluid. It's possible that not as many members as expected -- and particularly, not as many Republicans -- will want to speak.

Viq advises that anti-war Democrats are largely on board, for now. There's a general sense on the left that this resolution doesn't go far enough, but no one wants to stick a thumb in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's eye right now. She has promised that this will be a "first step" before the $100 billion war supplemental is taken up in the coming weeks. Closing the detainee facility at Guantanamo, barring the deployment of the final brigades involved in the troop increase, and/or tying the war supplemental to troop readiness -- all have been mentioned as possible strings Democrats could attach to that bill, while still keeping their pledge not to cut off funding for "troops in the field."

House Democratic leaders are taking a gradual approach, hoping to bring their contentious caucus along one step at a time. It's unclear whether the left will stick with the pack, and for that reason, the coming debate over funding may be more consequential than the debate [this] week.

Republicans will strike familiar themes during the debate. They'll try to put Iraq in the larger context of the global war on terror, issue warnings about the dangers of leaving Iraq in chaos, assert that Democrats have no plan, and decry that the Democrats' resolution would send the "wrong message to the troops." Republicans are divided and even Minority Leader John Boehner admits that he will lose members on this vote, Viq reports.

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for morning hour and at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business.

On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.

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