Some more suspension votes are up on the floor of the House today as the heavy lifting goes on behind closed doors. Democratic leaders there are at work on their opening political salvo against the Iraq war, a resolution opposing the troop increase scheduled for a vote next week. After seeing just how easily a symbolic statement was gummed up by the opposition on the Senate side, the House is intent on drastically lowering expectations.

At budget hearings the newly installed majority sounded off on President Bush's $2.9 trillion plan for 2008. With its increase in military spending, cuts in domestic programs, requests for private accounts for Social Security and continued tax cuts, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) feels Bush is picking a fight. No matter what the blueprint contained, however, he and others have known since Nov. 7 that the party is hamstrung by political realities they must heed to hold the House and win the White House. They don't want to cut military spending, they don't want to rescind Bush's tax cuts, they don't want to tackle entitlement reforms — it just isn't a good time right now. How to restore the spending cuts and balance the budget? Perhaps, because of Iraq, there will be no Democratic budget at all, as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) fears. "Can you imagine getting every Democrat to agree on spending for the war?" he asked a New York Times reporter.

Rangel is hoping for compromise from the administration. "We all need a win," he said. Which sounds good for Bush and not so good for the Democratic majority. Winning seems much easier in the minority.