Recently covered a meeting with some Dems trying to pressure Rep. David Price to not support further funding.
Fourth District U.S. Rep. David Price said he thinks the country is headed for a constitutional crisis as Congress and President Bush square off over funding for the Iraq war.
Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, said he expects the president to veto a narrowly passed emergency-funding bill that includes a timeline for ending U.S. military involvement in the four-year-old conflict.
The congressman offered this analysis Friday morning at his Chapel Hill office during an hour-long conversation with a handful of local Democrats from precincts that approved a resolution calling on Congress to end funding for the war. The Orange and Durham county Democratic party organizations also passed the resolution.
Sammy Slade, of Carrboro, told Price he sees a clear conflict between Congress passing full funding for the war while calling for its end.
Price said Congress is trying to shape policy through the power of the purse. Should the president veto the bill as promised, he said, it’s unclear how matters will play out.
“It’s a huge dilemma,” he said. “I think we’ve got a constitutional showdown coming.”
Slade and others said they hope Democrats will come back with an even stronger bill rather than the “clean” appropriations bill – one stripped of the withdraw provisions – the president says he wants.
But Price said Democrats who were around for the GOP-led government shutdown in the mid-90s are worried that forcing a crisis with the president could turn public sentiment against Congress in the same way the public turned on Newt Gingrich.
Allen Spalt said he hopes that if there is a veto, Congress will consider sending back a bill with less than full funding. “Nobody is suggesting we abandon the troops,” Spalt said. “Why not advocate for less than full funding.”
Price said for now all of the Democratic proposals have full funding. Some even include funding for a withdrawal as well.
While the conversation remained civil, there were flash points.
Slade suggested that supporting full-funding was a “devaluating of Democrats” and asked Price to vote with progressives should the bill come back.
“Please give me a break,” Price shot back. Of the 14 Democrats who voted against the bill, he said, seven sided with the GOP over philosophical reasons and seven voted out of opposition to the war. It was not an easy vote, and some of the Democrats who voted no over their opposition to the war were ready to vote for the bill if it was in danger of not passing. Inside Congress, he said, the lines are not as clean as the vote tallies might indicate.
“You might be surprised at the level of soul-searching going on in the Congress.”
Price said he thinks that, just as with Vietnam, the war won’t come to an end until the president understands that it is not just Democrats calling for an end.
“I don’t know what the tipping point is,” he said. “[The war] probably will end when a bunch of Republicans march down Pennsylvania Avenue and tell him he’s going to end it.”
And the congressman added: “We’d like to hasten that day.”