Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Senate votes on Iraq amendments

The Senate voted today on whether or not to invoke cloture (wherein 60 votes is required to so) on several amendments to a water projects bill pertaining to Iraq.

The Feingold-Reid amendment to cut off funds for the war after March 31, 2008 failed by a disappointing 29-67 vote. Many Democrats didn't vote for the measure, but all four Senators currently running for president (Obama, Clinton, Biden, and Dodd) did, at least.

Sen. Levin pulled from the floor his amendment to set an Oct. 1 date to begin troop withdrawals, but allow the president to waive that requirement. He had pitched the idea with the expectation that the president would accept it because of the waiver, but the White House said Bush would veto the measure anyway.

Two Republican-proposed amendments were also voted on.

One drafted by Sen. Warner would have cut off U.S. aid to the Iraqi government if they failed to implement certain political and security reforms. But in a last-minute change to the proposal to gain White House acceptance, Warner added a provision allowing the president to waive the restriction. Democrats rightfully called the measure tepid and weak and it failed on a 52-44 vote.

The last measure, which received enough votes, was proposed by Sen. Cochran and simply stated the Sense of the Senate that President Bush receive war funding soon.

The votes on these amendments were staged in order to give guidance to Senate negotiators in the conference negotiations with the House on Iraq supplemental bill. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on a bareboness bill that provides no funds and only expresses congressional support for the troops, intended to serve as a placeholder to get into conference with the House where the real bill will be hammered out. Negotiations on the final compromise are expected to take days, but it is hoped a vote can be taken next week.

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