In an overwhelming vote today, the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment put forward by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) that would have cut off funding for he Iraq war by March 31, 2008, and also started the withdrawal of troops from Iraq with in 120 days of the authorization of the amendment. The vote was 29-67. Only 28 Democrats and Independent Bernie Saunders voted for the amendment. Nineteen Democrats joined 47 Republicans and Joe Lieberman in opposition.

Sen. Feingold viewed today’s vote as a sign that his measure is gaining support. “Today the Senate took another step toward acknowledging the will of the American people, who want to end this misguided mission in Iraq. A majority of Senate Democrats are on the record clearly stating that the President’s Iraq policy is a failure and that we need to take real action to change course. Keeping 150,000 American troops in the middle of an Iraqi civil war both hurts our national security and impedes the ability to reach a political solution in Iraq. We must continue to ratchet up the pressure on the President and supporters of this irresponsible war to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq so we can refocus on those who attacked us on 9/11,” Feingold said.

One might think that this measure is growing in support, but this vote a bit deceptive. All four Democratic senators who are running for president in 2008 voted for the bill, but three of the four also let it be known that they really didn’t like Feingold’s plan. “I’m not crazy about the language in the Feingold amendment, but I am crazy about the idea that we have to keep the pressure on,” said presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE). Clinton and Obama released statements yesterday that made it clear that they were voting for the amendment for other reasons besides support.

Chris Dodd supported the amendment, and signed on as a co-sponsor. He said in a speech on the Senate floor that, “We cannot afford another day of escalation.  The price our nation has paid, and the price our men and women in uniform have paid is too high for a failed policy—a policy that has not succeeded, because it cannot succeed. I urge my colleagues to support the Reid-Feingold-Dodd amendment.”

The Senate also rejected a moderate Republican proposal that would have cut off U.S. aid if the Iraqi government failed to meet stronger benchmarks. The final vote was 52-44. This was 8 votes short of the number required for passage. 44 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and Lieberman voted for the bill, while 40 Democrats, 3 Republicans and Bernie Sanders voted against it. Democrats opposed this amendment because they felt that it was too weak. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) pulled his amendment from the floor after the White House signaled that they would veto it. The Senate did agree by a vote of 87-9 on a nonbinding resolution that expressed the need to pass a war spending bill by Memorial Day.

This amendment failed because Democrats know that Reid is still in negotiations with the White House on a compromise war funding bill. The compromise bill will give the president the money he wants, but it will include stronger benchmarks for the Iraq government to meet. It is almost certain not to include any penalties on the Iraqi government for failing to meet the new benchmarks. Clinton, Obama, and Biden could afford to vote for an amendment that was a sure loser. They know that that the compromise is coming, but the final bill really won’t be a compromise at all. The Democrats will not have gained anything, except time to keep the pressure on Congressional Republicans to end this war.

Feingold statement

Chris Dodd’s Senate Speech

Related AP story

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  blog radio  

 

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