The Week Ahead: War and Politics
Both parties have plenty to gain and lose this week, as congressional Democrats face a tall order on the legislative agenda -- particularly on Iraq -- while Republicans grapple with multiple crises on the political front.
Tomorrow, voters in Mississippi's 1st district will go to the polls to elect a replacement for Roger Wicker (R), who has been appointed to the Senate. Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers (D) is narrowly favored in the contest over Southaven Mayor Greg Davis (R) despite the district's strong GOP tilt, and a loss there would be Republicans' third embarassing special election loss of the year, raising the question of whether a Democratic wave is coming in November.
Adding to GOP anxiety is the predicament of embattled Rep. Vito Fossella (N.Y.), who admitted last week after being charged with drunken driving that he had fathered a child with a woman who is not his wife. Fossella has apologized for his failings but has yet to reveal his political plans, though many Republicans expect him to announce his resignation or retirement as early as today.
But it's Democrats who are under the gun inside the Capitol, as they will try this week to move a $190 billion-plus bill to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan along with new benefits for veterans and the unemployed. The House and Senate both punted the bill last week amid intraparty squabbling over the details of the measure. House Democratic leaders hope to bring their package to the chamber floor later this week, while the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to mark up its version of the bill on Thursday.
The massive Farm Bill is also on tap in both chambers this week, and it is expected to pass easily after months of difficult bipartisan negotiations. The real numbers to watch will be the victory margins, because President Bush has threatened to veto the measure and it may well garner enough votes in the House and Senate to override a veto. Republicans have generally backed Bush's vetoes over the last eight years, but many members will be wary of voting against money for farmers in an election year.
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