Back in late April, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) introduced a bill that would force U.S. commanders to begin withdrawing forces if the Iraqis don't meet certain benchmarks within four months. The benchmarks are based on six criteria that President Bush himself suggested early this year, and include disarming militias, amendind the constitution, and passing a law on sharing oil revenues among the Iraqi people.
Snowe was on NPR yesterday talking up this approach. It's an approach where, potentially, the Democrats lose something and so does the president, but they all gain something, too. The president gets an opportunity to pretend the surge might work, and Democrats are still able to put a stake in the ground on war funding.
Will it fly with other Republican legislators, though? More and more of them are embracing the idea of benchmarks, so it's conceivable that a veto-proof bill could be passed. But there are other options on the table - like the approach Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.) is recommending, which would be short term (two month) funding - that may appeal more strongly to the Democratic majority in the House.