Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Some Republicans vote for change, but not enough

Today, Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine, said she would co-sponsor the Democratic amendment to the defense authorization bill that requires troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin in 120 days and be completed by April 30th, 2008. Along with Sen. Gordon Smith and Chuck Hagel who previously supported similar legislation, this makes three Republicans that now favor joining Democrats with binding legislation. However, this still only gets us to 52 votes, since Sen. Lieberman votes the other way and Sen. Tim Johnson is still recovering. As we all well know by now, it takes 60 votes to invoke cloture and get a vote on the bill. The House version may see a vote by the end of the week. Though only a handful of House Republicans are expected to vote in favor, Democrats have the numbers on their side to pass it.

The hurdle that remains in the Senate was made clear today: Senate Republicans blocked a vote on an amendment from Sen. Jim Webb that would require longer rest times between deployments of U.S. troops (can they honestly claim they support the troops anymore?). 56 Senators voted to invoke cloture, 4 votes short. Seven Republicans joined Democrats: Norm Coleman, Susan Collins, Chuck Hagel, Gordon Smith, Olympia Snowe, John Sununu, and John Warner (so, basically those who either support the withdrawal legislation or face tough re-election or both). Sens. Lugar, Voinovich, Domenici, and Alexander showed how hollow their "change the course" speeches these past few days have been by not supporting this, however. You can see the full roll call here.

In the end, we still don't have nearly enough votes to force Bush's hand on the war, but the improvement over just a few months ago is encouraging. Perhaps in September we'll see more.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

I've read some political analysts who say that the unwillingness of the Senate Republican leadership to let bills come to a vote is only fueling many Republicans to break away from their pro-war colleagues, as they feel they can't get anything done short of jumping ship. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's an interesting theory.