Republicans Vote To Keep Troops In Iraq Indefinitely
"Monday will mark the beginning of the fifth year that our troops have been mired in a war in that far off country," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) before the vote. "Five years of war, the President's current approach in Iraq is not working. The country is closer to chaos than stability. U.S. troops are policing a civil war, not hunting and killing the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11."
"Five years of war, the mission has changed. Saddam is gone. There were no weapons of mass destruction. The original mission no longer exists. Five years of war, 3,200 Americans killed, over 22,000 wounded, over $400 billion spent, and still no end in sight."
The vote was 48 for the Reid resolution and 50 voting in favor of staying the course with Bush and keeping the troops mired in Iraq indefinitely. Under a procedural agreement, a two-thirds majority (60 votes) was required for passage.
It was almost a straight party-line vote with Gordon Smith (R-OR) -- who has become very much against continued U.S. presence in Iraq -- as the only Republican to vote for a change in direction. As expected Joe Lieberman voted with his colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle while Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) lived down to our low expectations by voting with the GOP to keep feeding the Iraq quagmire.
Seeking to both raise money for his presidential campaign and duck out of weighing in on the bill, John McCain (R-AZ) managed to again be out of town for a critical Iraq vote.
Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, accused Bush and Senate Republicans of ignoring the message sent by American voters in November in favor of throwing more troops into the middle of a violent civil war.
"Instead of developing a new strategy, the President has stayed on his failed course, plunging American troops deeper and deeper into a civil war on the streets of Baghdad and relying on the promises of Iraqi politicians, who have not delivered on previous promises. The question for us today is whether we will accept that failing strategy or whether we will change it," said Levin. "Our vote today will decide whether we will begin changing course to maximize chances of success in Iraq or whether we will remain mired in the status quo of sending more and more American troops into the middle of an Iraqi civil war."
Reid has said that he will bring binding legislation of this type back to the Senate floor again and again until it is passed.