Compromise Senate Measure Rebuffing Bush's Iraq Buildup Gathers Support

Compromise Senate Measure Rebuffing Bush's Iraq Buildup Gathers Support
February 2nd, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Compromise Senate Measure Rebuffing Bush's Iraq Buildup Gathers Support

Compromise Senate Measure Rebuffing Bush's Iraq Buildup Gathers Support
New York Times
February 2, 2007
Pg. 13
By Carl Hulse
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 — A revised Senate resolution criticizing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq drew new support Thursday as two authors of a sterner resolution of disapproval said they would accept the compromise, fashioned by Senator John W. Warner.
Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, and Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, said they would back Mr. Warner’s alternative, which declares that “the Senate disagrees with the ‘plan’ to augment our forces by 21,500,” calls on the president to consider other alternatives and urges him to limit the American role in countering sectarian violence.
“The bottom line of our resolutions is the same: Mr. President, don’t send more Americans into the middle of civil war,” said Mr. Biden, one of the authors of the initial resolution, which was approved last week by the Foreign Relations Committee, which he leads.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was the third author of that plan, favored by the Democratic leadership; on Wednesday night he, too, agreed to support Mr. Warner, a Virginia Republican who has worked with Mr. Levin in the past on major military policy.
But at least two Democrats, Senators Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, said they would oppose the new compromise, objecting to its symbolic nature and to wording they said could tie the hands of war critics on potential future votes over military spending. The Warner resolution says Congress should not reduce financing for troops in the field.
“I regret we are not doing something that has more bite to it,” said Mr. Dodd, one of the 2008 presidential contenders in the Senate whose positions on the Iraq resolution will figure into their emerging campaign themes.
The shifting allegiances — and the intense procedural gamesmanship preceding votes next week on Iraq policy — left it uncertain whether Mr. Warner’s compromise could attract the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural obstacles. Given the party divide in the Senate, it appeared that about a dozen Republicans would have to break from the president to allow the debate to move forward; he had only six Republicans firmly on board.
The Senate Republican leaders intend to mount vigorous resistance to any plan that rejects Mr. Bush’s troop buildup and were contemplating their options on Thursday.
“The chessboard changed last night,” said Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Republican whip. “We had them checkmated, but now everybody has to go back and look at the board.”
The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said Mr. Bush “will continue to exercise his responsibilities as commander in chief” even if the Senate — with House action expected to follow — approved a resolution opposing the buildup. He reiterated the administration view that a clear split between Congress and the president on Iraq could embolden the nation’s enemies.
“Osama bin Laden thought that a lack of American resolve was a key reason why he could inspire people to come after us on September 11th,” he said. “I am not accusing members of the Senate of inviting carnage on the United States of America. I’m simply saying you think about what impact it may have.”
With the framework of the Senate debate still being set, House Democrats pounced on a new Congressional Budget Office estimate that the addition of 20,000 combat troops could require an additional 15,000 to 28,000 related support troops to be deployed.
Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat who was among lawmakers requesting the estimate, noted the numbers exceeded administration projections. He said the report “only confirms what we already know: the president has continually tried to hide the true costs of this war, both in terms of money spent and lives affected.”
The first significant Senate vote on the Iraq resolution is scheduled to occur Monday evening, when supporters of Mr. Warner’s proposal will seek Senate approval to open the debate — a request that could require 60 votes.
Democrats said they were hoping that they could muster that many votes or reach an agreement with Republicans on the terms of the debate, allowing it to get under way. Then lawmakers would be given a few days to lay out their views before a more crucial cloture vote, which would also require 60 votes, on limiting the debate and moving toward a final vote.
Many of the senators from both parties who represented potential swing votes on the Warner resolution said they would be reviewing it over the next few days before taking a stand. The latest draft includes 22 paragraphs of findings, 12 more expressing the “sense of the Congress” on the best options, and 2 requiring periodic progress reports.
Republicans were meeting privately on Friday at a policy retreat and the Iraq resolution was certain to be a major topic.
A few prominent Democrats quickly came out for the Warner plan, which was written with Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, even as they expressed reservations.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York and a leading presidential contender, said that while she did not support all the provisions in the resolution, she would support it. “It makes the point, which is important,” she said. “We’re trying to get the attention of this president, to change course.”
But the outcome remained unsettled. As Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana walked from the closed-door meeting of fellow Democratic senators, she declared, “It’s still not a done deal.”
While some Democrats argued that the Iraq resolution was too accommodating to the administration and were weighing opposition, she disagreed. “It sends a very powerful signal to the president,” she said.

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