Washington Democrats know they might lose this month's showdown with President Bush on legislation to pull troops out of Iraq. But with 2008 elections in mind, majority Democrats say it is only a matter of time before they will get their way.
Senior Democrats are calculating that if they keep the pressure on, eventually more Republicans will jump ship and challenge the president - or lose their seats to Democratic contenders.
"It's at least my belief that they are going to have to break because they're going to look extinction, some of them, in the eye," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., of his Republican colleagues.
Added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.: "We're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war."
The House and Senate are expected to complete war spending legislation this week. The Democratic proposal would approve $96 billion in military money, mostly for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and set a timetable for troop withdrawal.
The House wants to end combat operations before September 2008; senators voted to set a nonbinding goal of ending combat by March 31, 2008.
As the final bill is negotiated, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Reid plan to meet with President Bush at the White House on Wednesday. They are expected to talk past each other, with Bush refusing to negotiate a timetable and Democrats insisting on one.
"I look forward to hearing how members of Congress plan to meet their responsibilities and provide our troops with the funding they need," Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address.
Bush has pledged to veto the legislation if it sets a timetable on the war or includes extraneous spending, including the $74 million proposed by House lawmakers for peanut producers.
Republicans have promised to back the president, leaving Democrats short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.