Is cutting off war funding political suicide?

A new poll suggests the answer is no.

Published April 11, 2007 6:44PM (EDT)

We've been taking it on faith that, when push comes to shove, congressional Democrats will have to cave in on the "emergency" supplemental funding for Iraq. They can -- and they should -- fight hard with the president over the conditions that should be placed on his funding request, but in the end they'll have to give him the funds he needs for the troops already in the field.

That's what we thought, anyway. But as Greg Sargent notes today, a new Los Angeles Times poll suggests that withholding funds for the war isn't quite the "third rail" of American politics that we assumed it was.

The Times' pollsters asked respondents what Congress should do if the president vetoes, as he says he will, the "emergency" supplemental spending bill with a withdrawal timeline attached. Forty-three percent of the respondents said Congress should respond by approving what the president would call a "clean" bill -- which is to say, funding for the war without any verbiage about when it should end. But slightly more, 45 percent, said that Congress should stand by its guns and refuse to approve any more war funding until the president agrees to "accept conditions for withdrawal."

Now, 45 percent does not a majority make, but the poll should give Democrats in Congress confidence that cutting off funding for the war isn't the political impossibility a lot of us might have thought it was. And there's something else interesting in the Times' numbers: Twenty-one percent of Republicans say Congress shouldn't send Bush more money for the war until he buys into a withdrawal.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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