Friday, January 12, 2007

Senate Efforts To Counter Bush's "Surge"

From The Hill:

As Senate Democrats worked to coalesce behind a resolution rejecting President Bush's plan to bring 21,000 more troops to Iraq ... one of the caucus' most influential centrists called for redeployment and expressed interest in Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D-Mass.) bid to seek congressional approval for the coming "surge."

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Finance Committee chairman who has lent his political capital to Bush's tax cuts and Medicare drug benefit, yesterday said the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was a mistake and denounced the White House plan to escalate the U.S. presence there. Baucus, whose nephew was killed in combat last year, said after an unusually personal floor speech that he would examine the Kennedy bill.

"I'm very interested in it," Baucus said of the Kennedy proposal, which would force Bush to win approval for any new deployments from the Democratic Congress. "It raises potential constitutional questions, the degree to which Congress can determine individual troop strength ... but on the other hand, I understand it has been used in the past."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring a nonbinding resolution to the floor next week disavowing the Bush troop increase, gunning for votes among Republicans already dubious of any new commitment to the chaotic situation in Iraq. But Kennedy continued to pick up cosponsors yesterday, adding Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Kennedy predicted his bill would reach the floor in "a matter of days" after the leadership resolution. ...

Whatever path Democrats take to unified opposition to the president's surge will get a political boost from the several of the same domestic policy groups and labor unions that helped bring down the White House Social Security plan in 2005. A new anti-escalation coalition will be unveiled today and accompanied by paid advertising in the coming weeks, according to Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the effort.

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