Republicans block debate on Iraq war


Republicans blocked a full-fledged Senate debate over Iraq on Monday, but Democrats vowed they still would find a way to force President Bush to change course in a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. troops.

“We must heed the results of the November elections and the wishes of the American people,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid, D-Nev., spoke moments before a vote that sidetracked a nonbinding measure expressing disagreement with Bush’s plan to deploy an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq.

The vote was 49-47, or 11 short of the 60 needed to go ahead with debate, and left the fate of the measure uncertain.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky described the test vote as merely a “bump in the road” and added that GOP lawmakers “welcome the debate and are happy to have it.”

The political jockeying unfolded as Democrats sought passage of a measure, supported by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., that is critical of the administration’s new Iraq policy. It was the first time Democrats had scheduled a sustained debate on the war since they won control over Congress in last fall’s midterm elections.

McConnell called for equal treatment for an alternative measure, backed by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., saying Congress should neither cut nor eliminate funding for troops in the field. That measure takes no position on the war or the president’s decision to deploy additional forces.

Democrats launched a withering attack on Bush’s war policy in the run-up to the vote.

“The American people do not support escalation. Last November, voters made it clear they want a change of course, not more of the same,” said Reid. “The president must hear from Congress, so he knows he stands in the wrong place, alone.”

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat, echoed Reid. “If the Republicans want to stand by their president and his policy, they shouldn’t run from this debate. If they believe we should send thousands of our young soldiers into the maws of this wretched civil war, they should at least have the courage to stand and defend their position,” he said.

The war has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. military personnel so far, and costs are counted in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The administration in recent days asked Congress for $245 billion more to cover the costs of the conflict through 2008.

In Baghdad on Monday, there were signs that the much-awaited operation to restore peace to the capital is gearing up nearly a month after it was announced. Iraqi troops manned a major new checkpoint at the northern gate to Baghdad, and Lt. Gen. Abboud Gambar, who will direct the operation, took charge of his still-unfinished command center.

But bombings and mortar attacks killed at least 74 people Monday across Iraq — all but seven of them in Baghdad. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in attacks in the past week.

Before the Senate test vote, McConnell sought to deflect charges that Republicans were hoping to block a debate. He said the roll call was meaningless, a “bump in the road” required to settle a procedural problem.

But behind the procedural quarrel lay uncertainty about the verdict the Senate would ultimately reach on Bush’s decision to send 21,500 additional troops.

Democrats hoped to gain enough Republican votes to pass the measure expressing disagreement with Bush’s decision, and to send the commander in chief an extraordinary wartime rebuke on a bipartisan vote.

It was an outcome that the White House and Senate Republican leadership hoped to avoid. They concentrated on a relatively small number of swing votes, many of them belonging to GOP senators expected to be on the ballot in 2008.

Gregg’s alternative said Congress should not take “any action that will endanger United States military forces in the field, including the elimination or reduction of funds for troops in the field, as such an action with respect to funding would undermine their safety or harm their effectiveness in pursuing their assigned missions.”

The measure advanced by Democrats and Warner said the same thing, but it also says the Senate “disagrees with the `plan’ to augment our forces by 21,500 and urges the president instead to consider all options and alternatives.”

Republicans and Democrats carried out their clash as 10 members of “Code Pink, “an anti-war group, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct during a protest in front of Sen. John McCain’s office in a building across the street from the Capitol. “They were absolutely compliant, peaceful,” Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said of the protesters.

McCain, a likely Republican presidential candidate, opposes the measure expressing disagreement with the increase in troops.


On the Net:

Text of Warner resolution

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. erika morgan

    I see congress as still posturing instead of forgetting their political selves and doing their jobs wholeheartedly. May they receive the fruits of their choices. It’s seemed to me lately that it will take a few human infernos on the capitol steps, but I like the idea of a few general strikes, they would still be in la-la land but their corporate funders would onto them in a flash. Note what the dismal US made gas guzzler sales stats have done to the price of gas.

  2. Kent Shaw

    Most of the members of the House and Senate are being bought, sold, and blackmailed. This is only my opinion but I am convinced of it.

  3. Doubtom

    Let me see if I understand this; The people have spoken and elected a Democratic Congress; latest polls put IdiotBush at 26% approval with 74% saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing and we still can’t get a vote through the Senate on a non-binding resolution?

    Do we need to take to the streets and have a bona fide revolution before the people can be heard AND understood?

  4. David Rosenberg

    To clear up a remark made by “Ray” Harry Reis voted with the repubs, allowing the resolution to be voted on again.

    Did the repubs think something bad would happen to them if they voted for the debate? Or are they showing their true colors by siding with bush? While this is going on, troops are building up in Baghdad, American troops. There is still worry, Iraqi soldiers will sit this one out. The ones that do show up, there is still worry, they will stay and fight. Funding or no funding, there will be a fight. More Americans will die and be injured. Still no word what happens afterward, regardless of the outcome. Oh, what a lovely war.

    So, while Congress divides up sides, exchanging calling each other names, the war marches on, with no change in sight. Let us not forget that confusion still remains. US pilots killed a brit yesterday after receiving word, what they were looking at were not Friendlies. The pilots even questioned the “Orange Markers” which is supposed to identify our side. They all agreed they were orange rockets and given the okay to fire upon. Afterward finding out the target was friendly, a torrid of curse words coming from the cockpit, could be heard.

  5. Joe Lawrence

    The talk of coordinated action of any sort, I have come to believe, is just that; talk, and talk alone.

    Being at the JAN 27th March on the Capitol in the midst of 100,000 or so fellow Americans felt, at first blush, comforting and reassuring. In the end, though, the politicians won. If we cannot muster more than, at least, one or two MILLION citizens on a bright, sunny and warm day to take a simple stroll up the very slight grade leading to the very Congress we want to have take meaningful action…………..

    Further words fail me.

  6. Fred P

    Are the Republicans really asking the American people to throw 10 (or more) Republican senators out at the next election? Are they trying to re-configure themselves as a permanent minority party? I really don’t understand why they’d do something like this, unless they think that American voters have extremely bad memories.

    The bill was so neutered that it had no force of law, and they decided that it wasn’t to be debated. This is just going to push the debate to the funding bills for the war.

  7. This article is blatantly untrue.

    The vote was 49-47, or 11 short of the 60 needed to *proceed* with debate.

    Sixty votes in the Senate doesn’t continue debate. Sixty votes in the Senate invokes cloture, which ends debate. And that’s exactly what was being voted on today.

    The Democrats were trying to rush this Iraq resolution through the Senate with little debate. The Republicans stopped it. They didn’t “block debate,” they blocked it from getting passed with little debate.

    Either this AP reporter, David Espo, is woefully naive as to how the Senate works or else he’s actively spinning this story for the Dems.

    And by the way, Harry Reid voted with the Republicans on this vote.

  8. Michael

    I just cannot stop thinking about all the children in Iraq with no homes, no hope, no mother and father. I know you people are going to say I’m a bleeding heart. But I don’t care. I do not like to see people sufferer. And that means any race and culture. But what do I know,I’m just a high school graduate. I have not gone to collage so I do not know how to kill people and sleep at nights.

  9. Republicans are only 16 percent of the population. We don’t have to kill them in a civil war. All we have to do is tax the rich back to the lower middle class.

  10. Joseph

    While reading the about the battle of the Somme in WW1 I thought about the poor bastards that died for the rich business owners of the time. There was no more thought for them than for our sons and daughters in Iraq. The GOP represents the same owners of business as in WW1. They could care less.

    Until we have another coup to remove the regime from office things will remain the same.

  11. Ray

    Oh, by the way, I do have an idea on how we can raise the funds needed to launch a counter offense against this tyranny we are faced with. The tool that will immediately change our great leaders attitude is explained in a reply that I submitted for Dougs Rant of Feb.2. Great profits could be made for those who get in early before all shares are sold out. This idea came to me in a flash and I believe it could actually make a differnce. You could expect not truth to power, but power to truth for Mr. Bush. Check it out.

  12. Ardie

    It looks like the Republicans are cutting and running again from having a serious debate on the war, the last time being 2003.