Saturday, September 01, 2007

Senate Dems Revise Approach on Iraq Legislation

According to, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin is considering removing the deadline of April 30, 2008 for completing the process from his bill with Sen. Jack Reed that would require the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq 120 days after enactment, save for a smaller force with limited missions. The thinking is that the change might garner enough Republican votes for it to at least survive a filibuster, which doomed the bill when it was put up a couple of months ago. The proposal is similar to one advanced by Rep. John Murtha in the House that had been scuttled by the "Out of Iraq" caucus.

Also, Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar said he will ask Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and the other cosponsors of a bill that would implement the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations to include in it — for the first time — a requirement that U.S. troops begin to withdraw from Iraq by year’s end. Retiring Republican Sen. John Warner recently called for President Bush to do and may support such a legislative requirement.

The Senate will likely take up the defense authorization bill as early as the week of Sept. 17 which is where votes on these proposals will likely take place, along with another try at Sen. Webb's requirement that U.S. troops spend at least as much time at home as they spend deployed. Like the Levin-Reed measure, Webb’s proposal failed previously to overcome a filibuster. The Senate will also bring up in the coming weeks the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriations bill and the war supplemental spending measure which will provide other opportunities.

On the House side, the first amendment to the fiscal 2008 war spending bill that will be considered is one from Appropriations chairman David Obey and Rep. Jim McGovern that would force a withdrawal starting in 90 days and ending by June 30, 2008. It would prohibit U.S. funding thereafter of any military operations other than fighting terrorists, training Iraqi forces and protecting U.S. personnel.

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