THE PERMANENT BASES QUESTION….A few months ago, Tom Engelhardt noted that the “debate” over permanent U.S. bases in Iraq was practically non-existent. After a search of the LexisNexis database, he explained, “American reporters adhere to a simple rule: The words ‘permanent,’ ‘bases,’ and ‘Iraq’ should never be placed in the same sentence, not even in the same paragraph; in fact, not even in the same news report.”

With the U.S. set to build four “super-bases” in Iraq, which many believe will eventually be part of a massive permanent presence, maybe it’s time to put the question on the table? According to one House Democrat, GOP lawmakers are avoiding the issue.

[Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)] introduced an amendment to the latest emergency war spending bill prohibiting the use of funds to build such bases. The House accepted it, and the Senate included the same wording in its version.

However, the provision was dropped by House and Senate conferees reconciling the two versions of the bill.

“Their willingness to abuse the process is amazing,” she said of Republican leaders. “I hope the debate will at least get a debate going on permanent bases.”

Thanks to a bi-partisan deal struck in April, Lee will probably have a chance to at least ask the question. The House is poised to hold a full-day debate on Iraq policy at some point next week, which both parties hope to use to make their case on the future of the war. Several Democrats are anxious to discuss whether the U.S. plans to maintain a permanent military presence in Iraq, and with any luck, they’ll get some answers.

Lee said in a press release that “Republicans need to go on record as to whether they think we should stay in Iraq permanently.” We’ll see what they say.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.