Senate Rejects U.S. Troop Pullout in Iraq


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Desertdog
June 15, 2006, 09:08 PM
Kerry and other Democrats accused Republicans of political gamesmanship, and promised an authentic debate next week. He and five other Democrats were in the minority on the vote - Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer of California, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.


Senate Rejects U.S. Troop Pullout in Iraq
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060615/D8I8S5D00.html
By LIZ SIDOTI

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate rejected a call for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq by year's end on Thursday as Congress erupted in impassioned, election-year debate over a conflict that now has claimed the lives of 2,500 American troops.

The vote was 93-6 to shelve the proposal, which would have allowed "only forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces" to remain in 2007.

The vote came alongside a daylong debate in the House, where Republicans defended the war as key to winning the global struggle against terrorism while Democrats excoriated President Bush and his policies.

"We must stand firm in our commitment to fight terrorism and the evil it inflicts throughout the world. We must renew our resolve that the actions of evildoers will not dictate American policy," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said in remarks laden with references to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The war was "a grotesque mistake," countered the Democratic House leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California. "The administration continues to dig a hole. They refuse to come up and see the light," she said.

The political subtext was clear from the outset.

"Is it al-Qaida or is it America? Let the voters take note of this debate," said Republican Rep. Charles Norwood of Georgia, attacking war critics as defeatists who do not deserve re-election.

The debate unfolded four months before midterm elections that will decide the control of Congress, and at a time Bush is trying to rebuild faded public support for the conflict.

The administration was so determined to get its message out that the Pentagon distributed a highly unusual "debate prep book" filled with ready-made answers for criticism of the war.

The Senate voted unfolded unexpectedly as the second-ranking leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced legislation he said was taken from a proposal by Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and war critic. It called for Bush to agree with the Iraqi government on a schedule for withdrawal of combat troops by Dec. 31, 2006.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said if the United States withdrew, "I am absolutely convinced the terrorists would see this as vindication." He predicted terrorism would spread around the world, and eventually reach the United States.

Democrats sought to curtail floor debate on the proposal, and the vote occurred quickly.

Kerry and other Democrats accused Republicans of political gamesmanship, and promised an authentic debate next week. He and five other Democrats were in the minority on the vote - Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer of California, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

The debate in the House was poignant and partisan by turns.

Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., began his remarks by asking for a moment of silence to mark the 2,500th U.S. combat death.

At the White House, spokesman Tony Snow said, "It's a number." He said that Bush "feels very deeply the pain that the families feel."

Polls show the war has become unpopular. But Bush has tried to rally support in the days since the death of terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the recent completion of a new Iraqi government.

The Pentagon's 74-page battle plan for the debate said that "Iraq will become a haven for terrorists, murderers and thugs" if the United States left "before the job is done."

"We cannot cut and run," it said at another point, anticipating Democratic calls for a troop withdrawal on a fixed timetable.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the document. It was sent to both Republicans and Democrats and it laid out the administration's positions in strong terms and offered page after page of counterpoints to criticisms that Democrats typically level against Bush's war policies.

"In this fight for the future of peace, freedom and democracy in the Middle East and around the globe, winning should be our only option," said Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga.

"Stay and we'll pay," countered Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who criticized "the failed policy of this administration" and lamented the lives lost, billions of dollars spent and the bruised U.S. image since the war started. "It's time to redeploy and be ready." he said.

Republicans arranged for the House debate to culminate in a vote either late Thursday or Friday on legislation - a resolution - that labels the Iraq war part of the larger global fight against terrorism and says an "arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of troops is not in the national interest.

Across the Capitol, partisan tensions on the Iraq war were clear as the Senate sent the president an additional $66 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and debated annual military legislation.

As the death toll and price tag of Iraq rise, opinion polls show voters are frustrated with the war and favor Democrats to control Congress instead of the Republicans who now run the show.

Sensitive to those political realities, House Republicans sought to put lawmakers of both parties on record on an issue certain to be central in this fall's congressional elections.

Democrats decried the debate as a sham. They said Republicans promised an open discussion but, instead, stacked the deck in their own favor by limiting debate to 10 hours and barring any amendments.

"Republicans offer a political document, just before the fall elections," Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., said. Added Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.: "They are forcing us into a charade."

They also complained that Republicans refused to allow them to present an alternative resolution. But even though they tried, Democrats weren't able to agree on such an alternative.

In both the House and Senate, Democrats appear to be divided into three camps. Some want troops to leave Iraq this year. Others object to setting any kind of timetable. A number of them want the United States to start redeploying forces by year's end but don't want to set a date when all troops should be out.

House Democrats are mindful that voting against such a resolution could leave them vulnerable to attacks by Republicans who could claim that Democrats who oppose the resolution don't support U.S. troops and advocate a "cut-and-run" strategy.

To that end, a memo this week by House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, urged his fellow Republicans to frame the debate as "a portrait of contrasts between Republicans and Democrats."

Republican leaders portray the debate as the first of its kind since the Iraq war started in 2003. But they staged a similar vote on a resolution rejecting the immediate withdrawal of troops last year after Murtha, in a reversal, called for a quick exit from Iraq.

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ArmedBear
June 15, 2006, 09:12 PM
Kerry...accused Republicans of political gamesmanship

And I accuse Kerry of double redundancy.:p

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