The Plank

Shifting Winds

By and

Although Harry Reid didn't make it far with his promise to work with Republicans on Iraq this fall, his strategy appears to have moved over to the House, where a bill requiring Defense Secretary Gates to present Congress his plans for withdrawing combat forces passed 377 to 46 yesterday. So many Republican yeses constitute a surprising loss for Republican leader John Boehner, who's kept his troops marvelously well-marshaled up to now. But the bill lost more Democratic votes than Republican: It's totally non-binding in the sense that it doesn't mandate Gates to enact the plan he presents, which led many disgusted anti-war Democrats to reject it.

It seems harder than ever for that anti-war bloc -- led by Reps. Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, and Barbara Lee, and which Pelosi was once a part of -- to hold onto its influence. Remember last spring, when the fear that the bloc would defect on March's war supplemental vote seemed to dominate the leadership's delicate positioning? And in July, Woolsey managed to keep a similar resolution off the floor: "It wasn't that hard to do," a Woolsey aide told me. But then "Petraeus took the wind out of everybody's sails."

--Eve Fairbanks

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