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Senate Republicans successfully block debate on Iraq resolution

Michael Roston
Published: Monday February 5, 2007
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After being assailed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for being "driven by a desire to provide political cover for President Bush," the Republican Leadership in the Senate succeeded in preventing debate on a resolution that criticized President George W. Bush's escalation plan for Iraq.

A vote of 49-47 failed to invoke cloture, after Democratic Senators were unable to persuade enough Republicans to cross the aisle and end a filibuster that blocked debate on the resolution, which was the result of a compromise between Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and ranking member John Warner (R-VA).

Reid addressed his Republican colleagues harshly.

"We’ve seen politics in this war before. Politics gave us the 'Mission Accomplished' banner. Politics gave us a Vice President who said the insurgency was in its 'last throes.' Politics gave us a Defense Secretary who promised America the enemy was just a few 'dead-enders' who would be stamped out in days.

"We’ve had enough politics. Four years into this war, what we need is a strategy that will succeed in Iraq," he said.

Reid had earlier remarked, "The President must hear from Congress, so he knows he stands in the wrong place, alone. A loud, bipartisan message from this Body will give him another opportunity to listen… to listen and change course to a plan to gives our troops the best chance for success."

Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, voted against cloture, and explained why he opposed allowing a full debate and vote on the resolution.

"There is a world beyond Pennsylvania Avenue that is watching and listening," Lieberman said. "For the Senate to take up a symbolic vote of no confidence on the eve of a decisive battle is unprecedented, but it is not inconsequential. It is an act which, I fear, will discourage our troops, hearten our enemies, and showcase our disunity. And that is why I will vote against cloture."

A full roll call of the vote is not yet available.

At the conclusion of the vote, Reid sought a motion to reconsider the vote, which was granted. To close the filibuster of the bill, the Democrats will need 60 votes.

Also after the vote, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the Michigan Democrat who presided over the cloture debate, added to the criticism of the Republicans who blocked the vote.

"We are now in a situation where the minority has voted down the ability of us to go to a resolution, or multiple resolutions dealing with Iraq, which we are all so concerned with," she said.

"Open and honest debate about the execution of this war is not only what our soldiers expect, it is what they deserve," she added.

According to the Congressional Record, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, "Let me just say there are many members on my side who would argue that we shouldn't be having this debate this week at all."