(by Susan Jones, CNSNews.com) – Senate Democrats finally got the vote they wanted on whether to change the course of the war in Iraq, and their views did not prevail.

The Senate voted on three resolutions Thursday, but the first one was the most critical.

A Democratic proposal (the Reid resolution) to begin pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq within 120 days — with the goal of redeploying all but a few combat forces by March 31, 2008 – was defeated 50-48. That was 12 votes short of the 60 needed for passage.

“This legislation is dangerous,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “It is constitutionally dubious. And it would authorize a scattered band of U.S. Senators to tie the hands of the commander in chief at a moment of decisive importance in the fight against terrorism in Iraq.”

McConnell said setting a deadline for withdrawal might please a “vocal group” of Democrats who plan to vote in the presidential primary. “But it would discourage many others, including many Democrats, who agree that timetables are foolish and dangerous.”

He said setting a troop withdrawal deadline would discourage U.S. troops, U.S. allies and “the millions brave Iraqi men and women who have dared to stand with America in this fight.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday’s vote of the troop withdrawal resolution shows the difference between Democrats and Republicans:

“Democrats believe that our troops should not be policing a civil war, that Iraq must take responsibility for its own future, and that our troops should begin to come home. Senate Republicans support President Bush’s plan to commit more men and women to policing an open-ended civil war,” Reid said.

McConnell said he wouldn’t impugn the patriotism of Democrats, but he did question their political motivation:

“Indeed, it is increasingly clear that the only principle guiding our colleagues on the other side is this: if the president proposed it, we oppose it. This is a bad principle in good times. It’s outrageous at a time of war,” McConnell said.

A second resolution, introduced by Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, said “no funds should be cut off or reduced for American troops in the field.” Most Democrats decided they couldn’t vote against it, and it passed 82-16.

Sen. Reid said the Gregg resolution “ignores Congress and its joint responsibility to wage war.” He called it a “feel-good amendment” that “doesn’t do anything.”

But McConnell said Republicans would “proudly” vote in favor of the Gregg Amendment – to send the message that “we will give General Petraeus’s mission a chance. We are proud of the work the general has done. And we stand with him until the job is done.”

A third resolution expressed the sense of the Senate that Congress must provide “necessary funds for training, equipment and other support for troops in the field.”

This was a no-brainer. Even Sen. Reid said a vote against this amendment would be a vote against the troops. It passed 96-2.

Hope vs. pessimism

Sen. McConnell said on Thursday there’s reason to be optimistic about the course of the war. Although the fighting in Iraq continues, he said, the mission led by Gen. David Petraeus is showing signs of success:

“We’re told that bomb deaths are down by one third in Baghdad since the new plan took effect last month,” McConnell said. “Execution-style slayings are down by nearly half. Traffic has returned to the once-empty Baghdad streets.”

It may not last, McConnell admitted, “but it is a sign of hope — the kind of sign that everyone in this country — Democrat, Republican — has been waiting for.

He said in voting against a troop redeployment deadline, Republicans are taking a “hopeful path.”

But Sen. Reid took a dimmer view of the situation.

“Monday will mark the beginning of the fifth year that our troops have been mired in a war in that far-off country,” he said.

“Five years of war, [and] 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.”

Reid said the U.S. military “cannot and should not police an Iraqi civil war.” The war can only be won through diplomacy, he insisted, and by forcing Iraq’s political factions to resolve their differences.

Reid said Thursday’s vote is only one step: “We will not stop until President Bush and Senate Republicans listen to the American people and change course in Iraq,” he said.

The next opportunity to force changes will come next week, when Senate Democrats begin work on legislation providing money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2007 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.


1.  List the 3 resolutions voted on in the Senate on Thursday and the outcome of each one.

2.  a) Who is the Senate Minority Leader?
b) What did he say is wrong with setting a deadline for withdrawal of troops from Iraq?

3.  a) Who is the Senate Majority Leader?
b) Why did he vote for the resolution to pull the troops out of Iraq by March 31, 2008?

4.  a) According to Sen. McConnell, for what reasons can Americans be optimistic about the course of the war under the new leadership of Gen. David Petraeus?
b) Do you think Sen. McConnell is unrealistic in his optimism?  Explain your answer.

5.  What is wrong with continuing the U.S. military presence in Iraq, according to Sen. Reid?

6.  Sen. Reid said “We will not stop until President Bush and Senate Republicans listen to the American people and change course in Iraq.”  Do you want President Bush to change course in Iraq and withdraw our troops, or do you think we should give Gen. Petraeus and the surge a chance? Explain your answer.


Go to Senate.gov for details on the resolutions mentioned in the article.

For an explanation of the difference between a bill and a resolution, go to c-span.org/questions/weekly50.asp

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