The Senate re-opened for business on Monday after a two-week Thanksgiving break, during which key Democrats traveled to Iraq and declared that the surge is working, at least from a security and military perspective. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), one the top war critics, stunned fellow Democrats late last week with his statement that "the surge is working," even though he added that political reconciliation has been lagging. Murtha's view was backed by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), who also said the surge worked after he returned from Iraq.
But Reid, in a Monday press conference, ceded no ground.
"The surge hasn't accomplished its goals," Reid said. "... We're involved, still, in an intractable civil war."
Reid's comments show that Democratic leaders in Washington may not be on the same page as their rank-and-file members when it comes to interpreting results on the ground in Iraq. Reid, as a leader, still needs to maintain some negotiating leverage as Democrats try to figure out a way to give President Bush some $50 billion in temporary war finding while at least attaching some strings to the money so it's not a blank check for the war.
Reid said Monday that the Senate still might take up a war funding bill before Christmas, and Democrats were still trying to find a compromise so it doesn't look like they've caved in to the White House on troop funding. Democrats are considering tweaking troop withdrawal language to lure a few more GOP supporters so the Senate could achieve a 60-vote filibuster-proof margin.
"I think we'll address war funding this month," Reid said.