Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a conservative Democrat from Nevada who had worked often with Republicans, turned to Warner.
But Reid, a former boxer, was also a fierce partisan who had excelled as a leader by keeping Democrats together. That impulse would be decisive.
As Warner walked the hallways of the Senate trying to find GOP votes and proposed weakening the resolution, the staunchest antiwar members of Reid's caucus grew increasingly restive.
Within days, Feingold said he would oppose the resolution. So too did Connecticut's Christopher J. Dodd, another liberal Democrat. Reid, who was skeptical that Warner could deliver enough Republicans, cut off debate. GOP senators killed the measure on a procedural vote.
After just four weeks, the drive to build consensus was effectively over.
"It changed the political complexion of the debate and the environment," said Maine Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, a moderate Republican who had worked on the resolution.
The quick demise of the anti-surge resolution prompted Democrats to focus inward. The party, which had done little to develop a consensus antiwar strategy, was in turmoil.
Grass-roots groups that had helped elect Democrats were clamoring for legislation to restrict war funding and compel a swift withdrawal. So, too, was the nearly 80-strong House Out of Iraq caucus, one of whose leaders, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), would get in a shouting match with Pelosi at a packed Democratic caucus meeting.
Other Democrats were reluctant to try to end the war by limiting money. "We didn't want to send a message that we weren't going to fund the troops," said Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman.
Pelosi turned to House Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey to write a bill that would bring Democrats together.
Obey, an old-school liberal from rural northern Wisconsin, was a fierce critic of the war. But the 38-year veteran was also someone who could cut deals with Republicans. Obey scorned doctrinaire antiwar Democrats who "didn't want to get any specks on those white robes of theirs." In one confrontation with a soldier's mother who asked Obey to stop paying for the war, the lawmaker exploded in a rant against "idiot liberals."
Republican leaders -- still struggling to keep their caucus from splintering -- worried that Obey would reach out to GOP moderates. "If they had put their hands out . . . there were probably 50 or 60 of my members who could have been there," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio said recently. "It could have been a very different outcome."
That was not the task Pelosi handed Obey.
The new speaker, who like Reid had united her party against hard-nosed GOP majorities, had never chaired a committee or drafted major legislation that required bipartisan compromise. She had a frosty relationship with Republican lawmakers. Now, she made it clear to Obey that she wanted a withdrawal timeline.
Drafts upon drafts
Obey and his staff hunkered down in his office for weeks, poring over scores of Democratic proposals. With Obey dictating language over his senior aide's shoulder, they produced draft after draft. Most of them went into a shredder.
Then, over the first weekend in March, they reached for a little-noticed bill filed just days earlier by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) that linked pullout dates to the performance of the Iraqi government.
The war-funding bill that Pelosi announced at the March news conference would require the administration to begin withdrawing troops no later than March 2008, and to complete the pullout by August.