Sunday, February 18, 2007

Iraq War Debate Voted Down in Senate

The Senate on Saturday narrowly rejected an effort to force debate on a resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, but Republican defections emboldened Democrats to promise new attempts to influence the administration’s war policy.

The 56-to-34 vote in a rare Saturday session was the second time Republicans were able to deny opponents of the troop increase a debate on a resolution challenging Mr. Bush, and it came just a day after the House formally opposed his plan to increase the military presence in Iraq.

But the outcome, four votes short of the 60 needed to break a procedural stalemate, suggested that Democrats were slowly drawing support from Senate Republicans for what was shaping up to be a drawn-out fight between the Democrat-controlled Congress and Mr. Bush over his execution of the war.

Seven Republicans split from their party and joined 48 Democrats and one Independent in calling for a debate — five more Republicans than during a similar showdown earlier this month. All but two of the seven face re-election next year.

The Republicans who broke ranks were Senators John W. Warner of Virginia, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.

"They are trying to divert attention from the issue at hand," Reid said of Republicans yesterday. "They'd like to turn the Senate into a procedural quagmire. They want to hide behind weak and misleading arguments about the Senate's rules or a senator's right to offer amendments. These arguments are diversions."

But Republicans accused Democrats of hiding behind the Senate rulebook to avoid the funding question.

"The reason we're here on a Saturday playing stupid political games while people are off in Iraq trying to win this war is because our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are afraid to take a vote on cutting off funding," blasted Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), in a speech before the vote.

Graham is just aping the main gooper talking point here.

Every war-supporting pundit worth his or her salt has urged the Democrats to cut off funding for the war.

They realize that the war is a hopeless cause, and desperately want the Democrats to cut off the appropriations so that they can then be blamed for the loss of the ill-advised and mismanaged Republican war.

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