Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Something in the Air: Senate Presses for Troop Withdrawal in Iraq

It must be something in the air, or perhaps the polls showing such bitter disapproval of Bush... Whatever it is the tide is turning against Bush more and more everyday. In a move that clearly shows Bush's GOP base is slipping further, the Senate passed a bi-partisan resolution moving towards "concrete steps toward troop withdrawals and a requirement for the White House to provide more information on military operations." As to be expected, the Republican's stripped the language that would have included a specific timetable hinged on certain conditions.

By a vote of 79 to 19, the Senate approved a resolution designating 2006 as "a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty ... thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq." It also would require the White House to submit to Congress an unclassified report every 90 days detailing U.S. policy and military operations.

The resolution was offered by Republican leaders after the Senate rejected a Democratic resolution,
58 to 40, that would have pressured the administration to outline a plan to draw down U.S. forces in Iraq. On that vote, five Democrats voted with the GOP majority, while only one Republican -- Lincoln D. Chafee (R.I.) -- voted yes. Democrats have moved aggressively to challenge Bush over how the United States went to war and how the war can be brought to an end.

The weaker GOP measure was added to a defense policy reauthorization bill, along with other provisions that would codify the treatment of military detainees and establish new legal rights for terrorism suspects.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid called the war-related resolution "a vote of no confidence" on Bush's Iraq policies. "Staying the course will not do," Reid said. Not wishing to concede a slip in power, no doubt -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called Reid's assessment "absurd" and "ridiculous."

Dan Balz, a
WaPo staff writer said, "The rebuff to the White House was muffled in the modulated language of a bipartisan amendment, but the message could not have been more clear."

It would have been easy for Republicans to defeat the Democratic amendment and leave it at that, but given the state of public opinion and the opposition to Bush's policies, Republicans needed a vehicle to show constituents that they understand the public's frustration and to signal to the White House that they expect more than statements of optimism about the pace of a conflict in which American troops are dying almost every day.

Roll Call Vote for the rejected Levin (D) Amendment.

Democratic Senators who voted Nay (against) on the Levin (D) Amendment: Conrad (D-ND), Lieberman (D-CT), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR)

Roll Call Vote for the approved Warner (R) Amendment.

Democratic Senators who voted Nay (against) on the Warner (R) Amendment: Byrd (D-WV), Conrad (D-ND), Harkin (D-IA), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Leahy (D-VT).

It appears that Senator Conrad didn't approve of either amendment -- he was the lone Senator who voted against both the Levin (D) and the Warner (R) amendment.


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