- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

For all the fanfare surrounding the announcement of the House Democrats’ Iraq war plan, few members seem to understand the specifics in the bill or when it would actually bring troops home.

The confusion added a layer of comic relief to a tense debate between factions of the Democratic Party as groups held dueling press conferences yesterday.

Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, of the Out of Iraq Caucus could hardly keep the details straight as she attempted to excoriate the plan proposed by her Democratic leaders.

“What they say is, if in fact there is no progress that we will pull out, if they can’t certify by October, by December, but if there is progress, if they are doing well, we will stay,” she said. “This would eventually get us out perhaps by March. The latest we would get out I guess with another progress report, or certification, by August of 1980.”

Come again?

“Wait — August ‘08,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat, quickly corrected her colleague.

“Oh, August ‘08,” Mrs. Waters corrected herself. “That’s how confusing it is.”

The back-and-forth caused reporters to stifle laughs but also illustrated how few members had a part in crafting the bill and highlighted how it was a working document up to the moment Democratic leaders held their press conference explaining it — 25 minutes later than planned.

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi carefully detailed the Democrats’ suggested benchmarks and requirements for President Bush to ensure that U.S. troops are fully ready before being sent to Iraq, reporters peppered her with questions to try and get the point.

“I’m confused,” one reporter told the speaker.

“OK, well, let’s try again,” the California Democrat responded. “If the president cannot demonstrate that progress has been made in reaching the benchmarks which he, President Bush, has established by July 1 of 2007, we begin — the 180-day period of redeployment begins, to be finished in 180 days.”

But, what happens between July 1 and Oct. 1? the scribe asked.

“If the president shows that progress is being made on July 1, say he can certify that, then we …”

“All he has to do is say progress is being made?” the perplexed reporter interrupted.

“Well, he has to certify and demonstrate that it has been. If he cannot — if he does that, that takes us to October 1, where we want to see the completion of those benchmarks. If that is not achieved, the 180 days begins.”

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