U.S. Senate backs troop withdrawal in ’08

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Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)

HAT TIP: HUFFINGTON POST DAVID ESPO  |  AP  |  March 27, 2007 07:31 PM EST

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly signaled support Tuesday for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by next March, triggering an instant veto threat from the White House in a deepening dispute between Congress and commander in chief.

Republican attempts to scuttle the nonbinding timeline failed, 50-48, largely along party lines.

The vote marked the Senate’s most forceful challenge to date of the administration’s handling of a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,200 U.S. troops. It came days after the House approved a binding withdrawal deadline of Sept. 1, 2008, and increased the likelihood of a veto confrontation this spring.

After weeks of setbacks on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid said the moment was at hand to “send a message to President Bush that the time has come to find a new way forward in this intractable war.”

“It is a choice between staying the course in Iraq or changing the course in Iraq,” he said.

But Republicans _ and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent Democrat _ argued otherwise.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a presidential hopeful, said “we are starting to turn things around” in the Iraq war, and added that critics “conceive no failure as worse than remaining in Iraq and no success worthy of additional sacrifice. They are wrong.”

Bush had previously said he would veto any bill that he deemed an attempt to micromanage the war, and the White House freshened the threat a few hours before the vote _ and again afterward. “The president is disappointed that the Senate continues down a path with a bill that he will veto and has no chance of becoming law,” it said.

Similar legislation drew only 48 votes in the Senate earlier this month, but Democratic leaders made a change that persuaded Nebraska’s Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson to swing behind the measure.

Additionally, GOP Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon sided with the Democrats, assuring them of the majority they needed to turn back a challenge led by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. “The president’s strategy is taking America deeper and deeper into this quagmire with no exit strategy,” said Hagel, the most vocal Republican critic of the war in Congress.

Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to the Capitol in case his vote was needed to break a tie, a measure of the importance the administration places on the issue.

The debate came on legislation that provides $122 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as domestic priorities such relief to hurricane victims and payments to farmers. Final passage is expected Wednesday or Thursday.

Separately, a minimum wage increase was attached to the spending bill without controversy, along with companion tax cuts that the Republicans have demanded as the price for their support of the increase in the federal wage floor. The House and Senate have passed different versions of the minimum wage-tax package, but they have yet to reach a compromise.

The House has already passed legislation requiring troops to be withdrawn by Sept. 1, 2008. The Senate vote assured that the Democratic-controlled Congress would send Bush legislation later this spring that calls for a change in war policy. A veto appears to be a certainty.

That would put the onus back on the Democrats, who would have to decide how long they wanted to extend the test of wills in the face of what are likely to be increasingly urgent statements from the administration that the money is needed for troops in the war zone.

“I hope he will work with us so we can come up with something agreeable for both” sides, Reid said at a post-vote news conference. “But I’m not anxious to strip anything out of the bill.”

As drafted, the legislation requires a troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days, with a nonbinding goal that calls for the combat troops to be gone within a year.

The measure also includes a series of suggested goals for the Iraqi government to meet to provide for its own security, enhance democracy and distribute its oil wealth fairly _ provisions designed to attract support from Nelson and Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

Despite the change, Pryor voted with Republicans, saying he would only support a timeline if the date were secret.

The vote was a critical test for Reid and the new Democratic majority in the Senate nearly three months after they took power. Despite several attempts, they had yet to win approval for any legislation challenging Bush’s policies.
 

20 thoughts on “U.S. Senate backs troop withdrawal in ’08

  1. But, Lieberman’s being a slug on this whole process makes me regret Reid didn’t strip him of his committee assignments when he had the chance.

    I didn’t think they had the guts to pass this, either…

  2. Their gut check came from public opinion solidly against Bush on this issue. That’s what the 2006 mid-terms were all about.

    I can’t wait for the veto. The Republicans are screwed and so far only Hagel knows it. Let’s see if the floodgates open now.

    This is great news.

  3. Wow, is that a parting in this horrendous gloom and doom cloud we’ve had hanging over our heads for far too long? This is SUCH good news. As everyone else has been saying, I honestly didn’t believe this day would come. Those of us staunchly against this catastrophe from the beginning have been pushed down for so long it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to stand up straight again. Well, I’m taking all 5’11” of me and standing up tall. No matter what shenanigans Bush and his cronies try to pull, I just can’t believe that America will go back to their “heads in the sand” (read that as heads up the Republican elephant’s patootie) mentality, but…

  4. Denise

    Good news, indeed. It also sends a strong “enough is enough, we’ve got your back” message to our troops.

    This should never be allowed to happen again.

  5. Rikyrah, I saw that. Since the CBC is going to continue to ignore us, we should ignore them when Fox proceeds to make royal fools of all of them.

    You’ll see which CBC members are righteous, because they won’t be on the air when that fiasco appears.

    Know how you have to let someone crash into a brick wall, even though you have warned them X number of times to look out for the wall? I hope they crash and burn, and become the laughing stocks of Capitol Hill, with people snickering every time they try to promote themselves as the “Conscience of the Congress” from here on out.

    I tell ya, there’s some fools who are hoping to get on the corporate teat like Harold Ford did. He can stomach being called “Nigger” to his face, and laughing when that bunch tells the jokes about the “black guy in a bar”, but the rest of ’em can’t, and all the money in the world won’t change that as far as Fox Noise is concerned, the whole CBC is nothing but a bunch of Niggers.

  6. Denise

    The Political Junkie said: ” tell ya, there’s some fools who are hoping to get on the corporate teat like Harold Ford did. He can stomach being called “Nigger” to his face, and laughing when that bunch tells the jokes about the “black guy in a bar”, but the rest of ‘em can’t, and all the money in the world won’t change that as far as Fox Noise is concerned, the whole CBC is nothing but a bunch of Niggers…”

    Denise says:

    Don’t hold back, sistah. Tell us how you REALLY feel, OKAAAAAY!! 😉

  7. Denise:

    How about this?

    “The other thumping sound you hear is the CBC members joining Abu Gonzales under that bus.”

    Honestly, I think it’s time to revoke some Negro Membership passes for this stunt. Starting with the four CBC Skinnin’ and Grinning for Massa board members on the CBCI: Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), Mel Watt (D-NC) and Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

    Three of ’em are shuck and jive brothas from the South, and you know they haven’t had any cajones since the Civil War.

    Kilpatrick’s paving the way for her son, the Big Pimpin’ Mayor of Detroit, Kwame, to possibly succeed her in Congress and ensure he has fat pockets when he gets there.

    Enough to make a sista want an Appletini…and I don’t even drink, but if I did, this is one lunch hour I’d go out, get plastered, and sleep it off. Wake up with a hangover that would make me as mad as a bear in the woods, and ready to kick CBC ass on this one…;-)

  8. dblhelix

    Here is a story about Bush’s DOJ Civil Rights Division well worth reading.

    The résumés showed that only 42 percent of lawyers hired since 2003 have civil rights experience, compared to 77 percent in the two years prior, when career attorneys were primarily responsible for hiring. Almost half of those new hires with “civil rights experience” had gained it by either defending employers against discrimination suits or by fighting against affirmative action policies.

    Career lawyers say the new hires are increasingly white males with Federalist Society or Christian Legal Society credentials, even though many of them are shocked to find themselves in the Civil Rights Division

    You’ll have to watch an ad to access the site.

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