Thursday, March 22, 2007

Senate Takes Another Shot At Iraq Resolution

Senate Democrats are taking another shot at making George W. Bush withdraw American troops from Iraq and will this time place a bill almost identical to the one defeated last week by a 48-50 vote in the upcoming $122 billion supplemental bill to fund the war.

The amendment to the supplemental spending bill would direct Bush to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq by March of 2008 with some redeployments to start within four months of the bill's passage. The language of the meaure provides for a small number of troops to remain in Iraq for force protection, training and equipping Iraqi troops, and "targeted counterterrorism options."

The amendment will go to a vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee today, where it is expected to pass and go to the floor for a vote from the full Senate.

"We should not leave our military caught in the middle of an Iraqi civil war. We should refocus our efforts toward confronting Osama bin Laden, his organization that attacked us on 9/11, and destroying his base of operations in Afghanistan," said Robert Byrd (D-WV), the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. "It is time for the United States Congress to push forward with a smart, responsible policy in Iraq. The men and women of our Armed Forces have carried out their duties with honor. It is time to refocus our efforts on Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden."

The full House of Representatives is expected to vote today on a corresponding spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan and it will contain a similar amendment, calling for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq before September 2008.

The Iraq amendment that will go to the Senate floor would also require the U.S. commander in Iraq and the White House to submit regular reports to the Congress on meeting the withdrawal objectives.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he will bring Iraq-withdrawal legislation to the Senate floor again and again until passed and evidence this month would certainly suggest that he is keeping his word.

"We have entered the fifth year of this misbegotten war, and President Bush has failed to articulate a plan and to give a clear reason as to why we remain in Iraq and to outline a strategy for bringing our troops home," said Byrd on Wednesday. "The White House has abdicated its leadership on this issue, and so it is left to Congress to speak for the people."