Senate Republicans are growing increasingly nervous defending the war in Iraq, and Democrats more confident in their attempts to end it.
More than a year before the 2008 elections, it is a political role reversal that bodes ill for President Bush’s war strategy, not to mention his recent statement that Congress’ role should merely be “funding the troops.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, made that clear Friday when he dismissed any suggestion that it could be November before a verdict is possible on the effects of the administration’s current troop increase.
“September is the month we’re looking at,” he said unequivocally.
By now you’d think the lackluster Democratic leadership of Congress would have learned. They may have a majority in the House and Senate but they don’t have either the power or the legislative savvy to defeat the despotic rule of President George W. Bush or his GOP lemmings on the Hill.
This point became all too clear Wednesday as the Republican minority defeated yet another grandstanding attempt by the Democratic majority to change the course of Bush’s failed Iraq war.
The all-night debate, staged by Democrats to showcase “the importance of the issue,” lumbered to a sleep-deprived halt as Democrats fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to even get a vote on whether or not to pull troops out of Iraq.
Senate Democrats staged an all-night debate on the Iraq war in a dramatic attempt to wear down Republicans who refuse to vote to begin to bring troops home by fall.
Republicans responded with a yawn — agreeing to stay around and respond to any votes that might be scheduled around-the-clock but remaining steadfast in their opposition to the Democrats’ anti-war legislation.
“This is nonsense,” said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.
Added Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., of his Democratic colleagues: “I bet I can stay up longer than they can.”
Sen. David Vitter on Monday denied having relationships with New Orleans prostitutes, a week after admitting links to a Washington escort service that federal prosecutors allege was a prostitution ring.
Vitter emerged from a week of seclusion by appearing at a news conference in suburban Metairie while holding hands with his wife, Wendy. He denied the New Orleans prostitution allegations and offered no indication that he would resign. He said he planned to fly Monday night to Washington to resume work in the Senate.
Republicans dismissed as political theater a Democratic plan for an all-night session of the Senate to debate President Bush’s military strategy in Iraq amid bipartisan proposals to redeploy U.S. troops.
The round-the-clock debate Tuesday night through Wednesday morning was intended as a way of pressuring Republican senators as well as Bush to act sooner rather than later on a change of course in Iraq.
“How many sleepless nights have our soldiers and their families had?” Sen. Dick Durbin, No. 2 in the Democratic leadership, said Monday.
The thin veneer of civility that masks opposing views on Iraq between Senators vanished Sunday in an angry exchange of words between Democrat James Webb and Republican Lindsey Graham.
In many ways, the heated exchange between the two symbolized the voter anger over President George W. Bush’s war. Like Vietnam, the Iraq conflict has divided America, destroyed friendships and strained relationships.
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter will probably emerge from seclusion soon and return to Washington to fight for his political career, a colleague of the first-term Republican said Friday.
When Vitter does, he is sure to be confronted with his past remarks about the sanctity of marriage, the importance of fidelity and the need for high ethical standards among office holders.
Two top Republicans cast aside President Bush’s pleas for patience on Iraq Friday and proposed legislation demanding a new strategy by mid-October to restrict the mission of U.S. troops.
The proposal, by veteran GOP Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Richard Lugar of Indiana, came as the Pentagon conceded that a decreasing number of Iraqi battalions are able to operate on their own.
“American military and diplomatic strategy in Iraq must adjust to the reality that sectarian factionalism is not likely to abate anytime soon and probably cannot be controlled from the top,” the Warner-Lugar proposal states.
A congressional panel moved toward seeking contempt charges against former White House counsel Harriet Miers on Thursday after she refused to appear — under orders from President George W. Bush — at a hearing on the firing of federal prosecutors.
The White House promptly accused the Democratic-led Congress of looking for a fight and failing to understand separation of federal powers.
“The committee is rejecting accommodation because they prefer just the kind of political spectacle,” said spokesman Tony Fratto.
A woman accused of running a Washington prostitution ring placed five phone calls to David Vitter while he was a House member, including two while roll call votes were under way, according to telephone and congressional records.
Vitter, a Louisiana Republican now in the Senate, acknowledged Monday that his number was on the woman’s call list and apologized for a “very serious sin.” The married father of four has remained in seclusion since, missing Senate votes and other activities Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.