On Wednesday, Democrats in the U.S. Senate plan to open debate on a resolution to withdraw the troops from Iraq. Republicans said today that recent events in Iraq have convinced them that it would be better to allow debate on President Bush’s war policy than to block debate on the issue for a third time. “The surge is underway,” said Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS). “There are some positive signs here.” Republicans, like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) oppose the Democrats measure because he believes it “moves us down the road toward further micromanaging the troops.”

Democrats are uncertain whether or not they can cobble together a majority in the Senate to support the measure. Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he has 49 votes in support of the measure. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) will not vote because he is still recovering from a stroke, and Independent Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is opposed to the measure. “I start with 49,” Reid said. “Unless you get some Republicans it’s hard to get to 50, even with modern math.” Just because the Republicans are allowing debate, does not mean that the measure will ever come to a final vote. The Senate would have to vote to end debate and allow a final vote. In most instances, 60 votes are required to end debate and move to a final vote.

This makes it very likely that the GOP minority will allow debate, but kill the measure by not allowing it to come up for a final vote. The Senate measure calls for troops to begin to be withdrawn from Iraq within four months of the measure becoming law. It sets a deadline of March 31, 2008 for the complete withdrawal of all combat troops. The House is going to try to pass a similar measure by attaching it to the pending $124 billion war spending bill. The Republicans in the Senate do not want to appear to obstructionists on the Iraq issue, but they don’t want to even consider the embarrassment that would come from two of their own crossing the aisle and voting with the Democrats.

My best guess is that this measure will never come to a vote in the Senate. Plus, many of Republican Senators really seem to believe that the troop surge is working, and that things are improving in Iraq. These Republicans would like the chance to highlight what they see as positives about the situation in Iraq on the Senate floor during the debate. It is doubtful that their message will connect with an American public that has turned on this war. It seems like all most Americans want to hear is that the troops are coming home.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse  

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