The Senate Thursday crushed a latest, and largely symbolic attempt by anti-war Democrats to cut off funding for most Iraqi combat operations by next June.
Only 28 Senators, all Democrats, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama backed the measure, which fell 32 votes short of the 60 vote supermajority it needed to pass.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Senator Russ Feingold, would have allowed funding only for a strictly limited US mission, based on training Iraqi forces and targeted counter-terrorism operations.
Before the vote, Reid bemoaned the fact that Democratic attempts to force Bush’s hand on the war had been rebuffed again and again.
“There is nothing the Democratic majority can do to force our Republican colleagues to vote the responsible way,” he said.
But 20 Democrats also voted against the Reid/Feingold bill, reflecting the fact that many Senators are wary of being seen to cut off vital funding for US troops on a foreign battlefield.
On Wednesday, the Democrats were left reeling from a much more significant defeat in the Senate — the failure of an attempt to dictate rest periods for troops equalled the time they spend on combat tours.
The measure, which would have limited the number of troops available for deployment in Iraq, fell three votes short of the 60 vote supermajority, and was seen as the Democrats best chance to pass an anti-war bill this year.
The defeat was the latest in a string of reversals for Democrats, who grabbed control of Congress last year on a tide of anti-war feeling, but have failed to thwart President George W. Bush’s powers to set war policy.
Also on Thursday, the Senate voted by a tally of 72 to 25 on a bill which effectively condemned an advertisement in the New York Times last week by liberal anti-war group MoveOn.Org, criticizing Iraq war commander General David Petraeus.
The ad, reading “General Petraeus of General Betray US” gave Republicans ammunition to attack Democrats during the general’s testimony before Congress on the ‘surge’ troop escalation strategy last week.
Clinton voted against the amendment to a defense policy bill — Obama did not cast a vote.