Democrats drop push for immediate withdrawal in apparent effort to blame Republicans
A move to shift responsibility for war
Unable to attract enough war-weary Republicans, Senate Democrats are abandoning calls for a full withdrawal of US troops from Iraq as the chamber resumes debating the war this week.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Democrats will push for a deadline of June 2008 and make a "stronger effort" to cut off war funding rather than calling for an immediate withdrawal to begin, according to an article in Wednesday's Washington Post.
"It's all definite timelines," Reid said.
The move appears part of a political maneuver by Reid, who, speaking to reporters Tuesday, indicated he wouldn't allow Bush 'wiggle-room,' by bringing forth an amendment by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) whose bill calls for end of combat by summer 2008.
Democrats are not believed to have the support for such a measure -- and as such appear to be putting forth doomed proposals to shift responsibility for the war's success or failure onto Republicans.
"I think they've decided definitely they want this to be the Senate Republicans' war, not just Bush's," Reid said. "They're jealous."
Indeed, Levin even said he would temper his amendment non-binding, but leadership said no.
Debate over an annual defense policy bill that is beginning today will set the stage for senators to introduce amendments aimed at changing course in Iraq. Two Democratic proposals have attracted some Republican support, the Post reports.
An amendment from Sen. James Webb (D-VA) would ensure that US troops spend as much time at home as they do in a war-zone between tours of duty. The amendment, which fell four votes short of the 60 needed to move forward earlier this summer, would end the practice of sending troops to Iraq for up to 15 months with only a year or less at home in between.
Although it does not explicitly call for a troop withdrawal, Webb's measure is seen by some Democrats as a way to limit combat operations by making fewer troops available, the Post reported.
"I've tried to explain to them this is no backdoor way to focus on the war in Iraq," Reid said. "It's to replenish and restore -- I keep using those words -- our military."
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) a Democratic presidential candidate, has introduced another measure with bipartisan support that would endorse the partition of Iraq into three regions.
Leaders from both parties met Tuesday to discuss two other proposals seen as having bipartisan support. Reid panned a move to implement the Iraq Study Group recommendations, and said the group's proposal would need to be strengthened to attract Democratic support. (He called the measure being considered "weak tea," the Post said.)
Another amendment -- from Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) -- would shift troops' focus from combat to border security, counterterrorism and training Iraqi security forces.
Collins said senators from both parties were exploring the possibility of combining her measure with the Iraq Study Group's recommendation to garner 60 votes.