Friday, September 21, 2007

And capping off the Senate's week of legislative holocaust...

Surprise! Another Iraq-related amendment to the 2008 defense authorization bill failed miserably today.

The Levin-Reed proposal, which would mandate troops begin being redeployed within 90 days of enactment and be completed in 9 months (save for those involved in counterrorism, training Iraqis, and other limited roles), went down on a vote of 47-47. The reason the margin is so low is because 2 Democrats and independent Senator Bernie Sanders didn't vote (because they considered the legislation not to be strong enough) and because Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson and Mark Pryor and Republican Senator Susan Collins switched their votes (it was a procedural vote back in July and they just favored advancing the bill). Senator Chris Dodd also changed his vote because he now only favors legislation that would cut off funds for the war after the withdrawal deadline.

Apparently, Levin and Reed now are going back to the idea of getting rid of the date certain and making it a goal instead. I'd support this but I think Harry Reid is right that such a "compromise" wouldn't attract anymore Republicans really (at least not as many as necessary), so why not keep forcing them to take hard votes on the war and hope their political will breaks eventually? Hell, I'd support a bill that would simply require the transition to a more narrowly-defined mission for our troops in Iraq without withdrawals if it'd get some change in Iraq policy, but it is clear that anything less than what is currently being offered will lose as many Democrats as it gains Republicans, so how could it get the 60/67 votes needed to pass?

Some just don't get it:

Meanwhile, moderates in the chamber are clamoring for their measures to be considered when the Senate resumes consideration of a defense policy bill next week. Alexander said he and his cosponsor, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), would object to unanimous consent requests on the floor next week if their measure is not scheduled for a vote and it appears they have 60 senators in favor of the plan.

“We will object unless we decide Monday that we don’t have a good chance of getting” 60 votes, Alexander said. “Our objective is for our government to speak with one voice.”

The amendment would make the Iraq Study Group recommendations official policy, calling on the government to implement a phased withdrawal of troops with Iraq and engage in direct talks with Iran and Syria.

Reid has called the measure “toothless,” and the White House has expressed reservations even though Defense Secretary Robert Gates was an original member of the commission.

As I said, such a measure won't get 60 votes, so their threat is as toothless as their bill.

Let's face it, fairly or unfairly, this Senate can't end this war. Basically, we're screwed until Republicans finally break (which may or may not happen in the coming campaign season), Democrats grow the balls to refuse to approve any more war funding without a timetable, or we elect a Democrat to the White House (along with tons more Dems in the Senate and House). In all likelihood, this war isn't going to end until at least 2009.

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