Thursday, June 22, 2006

13 Senators stand up on Iraq withdrawal

Last August, when Sen. Russ Feingold proposed a target date for withdrawal of USA troops from Iraq, he stood almost all alone.

Although support from the American public has been growing, members of Congress have been reluctant -- I would use a much stronger word, like chickenshit -- to stand up and be counted.

Feingold's original target date, to be out by the end of 2006, is no longer practical, so he and Sen. John Kerry joined in sponsoring a new proposal to set mid-2007 as the target.

To no one's surprise, that was defeated in the Senate today. But it got 13 votes. Besides Feingold and Kerry, the honor roll of those casting "yes" votes:

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), co-sponsor
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), co-sponsor
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

The Senate also rejected a watered-down, mostly meaningless proposal, 60-39. The WashPost:
The Levin-Reed amendment said the U.S. Armed Forces "are stretched thin and that "sectarian violence has surpassed the insurgency and terrorism as the main security threat in Iraq." It said, "The current open-ended commitment of United States forces in Iraq is unsustainable and a deterrent to the Iraqis making the political compromises and personnel and resource commitments that are needed for the stability and security of Iraq."

The amendment called for "a fair sharing of political power and economic resources" among Iraqi factions, said the Iraqi government should disarm militias and urged Bush to convene an international conference to promote a "durable political settlement" and "reduce regional interference" in Iraq.

On the Levin-Reed proposal, Jeffords and one Republican -- Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island -- sided with 37 Democrats in voting yes. Voting to reject it were 54 Republicans and six Democrats.
The dishonor roll of six Democratic senators who voted no:

Mark Dayton (Minn.)
Mary L. Landrieu (La.)
Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.)
Bill Nelson (Fla.)
Ben Nelson (Neb.)
Mark Pryor (Ark.)


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