Saturday, July 14, 2007

Iraq Math

223 House members voted for the Iraq withdrawal bill this past Thursday. That's 67 votes short of the two-thirds or 290 votes necessary to override a presidential veto and forcing troop withdrawals from Iraq. Ironically, 67 is also the number for a veto-proof majority in the Senate. Can we get there?

Well, you have 49 Democrats in the Senate (plus Bernie Sanders who caucuses with them and favors withdrawal, unlike Joe Lieberman), but you need to get Sens. Ben Nelson and Mark Pryor on board who are shaky on the issue and Sen. Tim Johnson has to return from his recovery from a stroke earlier in the year to get the full 50 votes from the caucus.

Now on to Republicans: You have three co-sponsoring the Levin-Reed bill that mandates withdrawal in 120 days (with a fixed date of August 30th, 2008 for completion): Sens. Hagel, Snowe, and Smith. 4 Senators - John Warner, Susan Collins, Norm Coleman, and John Sununu - voted for Webb's troop readiness amendment and Warner and Collins are proposing their own Iraq legislation. Sen. Richard Lugar is joining Warner on that. 4 Senators - George Voinovich, Lamar Alexander, Pete Domenici, and Judd Gregg favor a non-binding bill to implement the Iraq Study Group recommendations only for right now.

That leaves us at just 62 potential votes in September or whatever future date the issue will be considered again after the Levin-Reed bill gets shot down this Monday. That's enough to get a vote on the bill, but not enough to override Bush's certain veto yet. We need 5 more votes.

Senators Pat Roberts, Mitch McConnell, Elizabeth Dole, and Ted Stevens face potentially strong reelection challenges next year, so even if you could somehow get them that's still only 66. And I honestly can't think of a single other Republican who isn't a crazy, pro-war nutbag who might be able to change.

The bottom line is getting 67 votes in either chamber isn't even close to happening, and simply may not be possible at all until we get more Democrats in the Senate after the 2008 elections. Hopefully, we'd also have a Democratic president by then who could begin withdrawing troops immediately. For right now, I don't see any real options to ending the war other than defunding it and/or impeaching Bush and Cheney. Don't even get me started on the vote math for that.

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