Protesters marched through some Iowa cities Wednesday night, voicing opposition to President Bush’s veto this week of a bill that would have set a timetable for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. In Washington D.C., Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the Bush veto was expected and now he and his Democratic colleagues are regrouping to determine their next move with a new Iraq war spending bill.
Harkin says: "We are now engaged in talks here in the Senate about what kind of timetables and benchmarks we want to put in it. That’s not been decided yet. There were earlier indications by the administration of wanting benchmarks but nothing solid has ever been put forth." He backed the original legislation that included stipulations the U.S. pullout be complete by October first.
Harkin says he doesn’t want to back down from that original goal but knows politics is the art of compromise. Harkin says, "All I can say is it’s being worked on right now. We’re trying to come up with a set of timetables and benchmarks that we believe are achievable and which we believe will force the Iraqi government to make certain accommodations they’re going to have to make to have a truly pluralistic society."
White House officials are meeting with key Senate leaders today to seek common ground on the new Iraq war spending bill, but Harkin’s not optimistic the withdrawal language will be included. Harkin says: "I must say at the outset though, I don’t hold much hope for that happening. I still think the timetable we need is the timetable to get our troops out of there." Bush’s veto this week was only his second since he took office.