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Summer Dreams Likely to Fade Quickly in September

As nearly all of Washington leaves town for August, we’d like to take this time to give all of you beachgoers a sand-eye view of what perfect storms you’re sailing into come September. So, strap on your sandals — it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The main event, of course, remains the Iraq War, and in September all of those pleas from Republicans to “wait until September” will no longer be operative.

After all, the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has to present his report to Congress by Sept. 15, and he is expected to ask for more time and more money. So the new refrain could be “wait until December,” or however long Republicans are willing to stick with President Bush.

On the undercard, of course, is the “Shutdown Showdown Smackdown,” whereby Democrats will serve up spending bills and Bush very likely will veto them. So Democrats will be forced to pass several stopgap spending bills and, once again, December might become the new September.

But there is plenty more to meditate on oceanside besides guns and butter. There’s energy, health care, student loans, alternative minimum tax relief, No Child Left Behind II and more coming down the pike, and both sides are readying for the fight.

“The majority spent much of the session building castles in the sand, hoping that high tide would never come,” quipped Antonia Ferrier, spokeswoman for House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “But now with the boys of summer about to return, we’re faced with an SCHIP bill that kicks sand in the face of our seniors, an energy bill written under the boardwalk by the extreme environmentalist crowd, and a raft of appropriations bills that were crafted as if we were spending sand dollars instead of real ones.”

Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), had a sunnier view. “Building on the success of the first seven months, the new-direction Congress will continue to push for critical priorities like lowering college costs and putting our country on a road to energy independence,” he said.

So load up on your sunscreen — September looks to be a scorcher.

Petraeus’ report will hit town just as Democrats in both chambers revisit for the umpteenth time the issue of how to bring the Iraq War to an end without cutting off funding for the troops.

The key, of course, is passing a Defense Department appropriations bill before Sept. 30, lest they be accused of keeping needed funding from our men and women in uniform.

Senators will likely have a twofer in taking up the Defense spending and authorization bills as Petraeus’ report hits their desks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hasn’t announced his game plan but has been focused on using the authorization bill to change course in Iraq.

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