Friday, March 16, 2007
Senate Rejects Dems Iraq Withdrawal Measure
In an ominous sign for the Democratic legislative campaign to end the war in Iraq, the Senate on Thursday rejected a resolution that would have required President Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. combat troops within 120 days after it was enacted.
Two Democrats joined one independent and all but one Republican to reject the measure, 50 to 48, marking the third time in the last six weeks that an antiwar resolution has foundered in the closely divided Senate. ...
The White House has repeatedly indicated that Bush would veto any measure that would restrict his ability to conduct the war. And Thursday, a spokeswoman touted the resolution's defeat and issued a warning to House Democrats pushing their own withdrawal plan.
The prospects that either the House or the Senate measure would will win final passage were always considered slim, given that the Senate legislation needed a so-called supermajority of 60 to advance. Even so, the White House issued forceful veto threats, sending a clear signal to Republicans where the president stood. The White House also worked behind the scenes this week to keep Republicans on board.
Two Democratic Senators, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, crossed party lines to oppose the withdrawal plan. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent and staunch supporter of Mr. Bush's Iraq policy, voted as expected with the Republicans. Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican running for president, was campaigning in Iowa at the time of the vote.
Democrats asserted that the only alternative to their plan was endorsing, once again, the status quo in Iraq. In a debate steeped in anger and dismay, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia declared, "We were wrong to invade, we were wrong to think victory would be quick or easy, and we are wrong to stay on in occupation that earns us only hatred — with no end, no end, no end in sight."
Republicans declared that the resolution would be devastating to the American war effort, "like sending a memo to our enemy," or "giving notice to the other side of when we're going to depart," in the words of Mr. McConnell.