Republican Sen. Snowe signs onto to withdrawal bill
Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has signed on as cosponsor to a Democratic bill that will require troops to leave Iraq by the end of April 2008, she said in a statement provided to RAW STORY.
The Maine senator, who was among the first Republicans to break with President Bush over the war, said she is supporting the withdrawl measure because the Iraqi government is failing to meet its political benchmarks and it is unfair to keep US troops in harms way for the sake of a government unwilling to affect reconciliation. Snowe is signing on to an amendment sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., that would begin a redeployment of US troops out of Iraq within 120 days. The legislation aims to have all but a small number of troops out of the country by April 30.
"We have arrived at the crossroads of hope and reality, and we must now address the reality," Snowe said in a prepared statement. "We need to send a strong message from the United States Congress on behalf of the American people that the current strategy is unacceptable and that we must move in a different course."
This morning, according to a local Maine television station, "Maine's senior senator is indicating that she may break ranks and line up with Democrats in support of legislation to require a troop withdrawal from Iraq to begin within 120 days."
A vote is expected next week. While nearly all Democrats support the measure, it still lacks the 60 votes required to defeat a filibuster.
ThinkProgress has a CNN video reporting Snowe's decision here.
The moderate Republican visited Iraq most recently in May of this year, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
"It was infinitely worse, in spite of the surge and the additional troops," she told the paper. "I've been to war zones. You know when it's working and when it isn't, and really, it was an ironclad shutdown."
Snowe introduced legislation in May that would have called for limits on the US mission in Iraq if the Iraqi government failed to meet political benchmarks, she said.
“We are past non-binding resolutions but we are also not abandoning the mission in Iraq," Snowe said in her statement Wednesday. "We cannot continue to keep our brave military men and women on the front lines if the Iraqi government is unwilling to put national interests above their own sectarian interests.”
Full statement from Sen. Snowe:
“We have arrived at the crossroads of hope and reality, and we must now address the reality. We need to send a strong message from the United States Congress on behalf of the American people that the current strategy is unacceptable and that we must move in a different course. As I have stated for months and underscored in the bipartisan legislation I introduced in May, if the Iraqi government failed meet the political benchmarks necessary for success than we would transition to a more tailored mission in Iraq, one that does not limit our ability to counter Al Qaeda operations in the region, and redeploy the remaining forces. The proposal by Senator Levin is a continuation of what I laid out in my legislation that focuses on counterterrorism operations, protecting U.S. and Coalition personnel and assets in the field, training and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces and coordinating a multifaceted strategy to encourage neighboring nations to help bring stability to Iraq.
“The surge was designed to provide breathing room for the Iraqi government to initiate the political objectives for national reconciliation and make the political concessions among all parties. Regrettably, the Iraqi government has failed to achieve or make any measurable progress on any of the objectives.
“We are past non-binding resolutions but we are also not abandoning the mission in Iraq. We cannot continue to keep our brave military men and women on the front lines if the Iraqi government is unwilling to put national interests above their own sectarian interests.”