Reid To Force Senate Into All-Night Session Tuesday
"Now, Republicans are using a filibuster to block us from even voting on an amendment that could bring the war to a responsible end," said Reid. "They are protecting the President rather than protecting our troops. They are denying us an up or down – yes or no – vote on the most important issue our country faces."
The Reed-Levin amendment to the Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization Bill requires George W. Bush to "commence the reduction of the number of United States forces in Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act" and mandates a withdrawal of most combat forces by April 30, 2008.
The legislation, S.AMDT.2087, has bipartisan support and is cosponsored by Gordon Smith (R-OR), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).
In making this move (based on my understanding of Senate rules), Reid is invoking the provisions of Rule 22 (Precedence of Motions) of the Standing Rules of the Senate, which provides, at the Majority Leader's discretion, up to 30 hours of debate if a filibuster is initiated -- as the Republicans will most certainly do, knowing that Reed-Levin may very well have the 51 votes needed for passage.
Sixty votes are needed to achieve cloture (end debate) and move legislation to a full, deciding vote.
Reid will be using the provision of Rule 22 that allows for up to 30 hours of continuous debate once it's made clear -- in this case, by Republicans trying to avoid an up-or-down vote on Reed-Levin -- that there is a desire to continue debating the issue.
In other words, the Majority Leader is saying "You want to debate? We'll stay all night and debate."
"I would like to inform the Republican leadership and all my colleagues that we have no intention of backing down," said Reid this afternoon. "If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it."
Reid could hold the Senate in continuous session overnight Tuesday and into midday Wednesday unless Republicans agree to a simple-majority vote on Reed-Levin.
Senate Democrats will then be prepared to take to the floor and speak all night and, if their Republican colleagues do not remain in the chamber, invoke ongoing quorum calls and other procedural maneuvers to force GOP members back to the Senate floor.
With the whole specter of cots being dragged into Senate cloakrooms and the pure theatrics involved, I'm hopeful this will shine a white-hot spotlight on the Senate's Republican leadership and show Americans how the GOP doesn't truly support helping troops and their families at home or extricating them from pointless involvement in the Iraqi civil war.
And I'm sure more than one Democratic Senator will remind the public that Republicans screamed at the top of their lungs last year when it came to getting up-or-down votes on Bush's right-wing judicial nominees, but expressing the sentiments of most Americans and protecting America's troops gets no such treatment from them.
Said Reid today: "We don't have to mark time, waiting for the President to wake up one morning with a revelation. And we can choose that new path right now."
Update: Here's the text of the Reed-Levin legislation.