Senate Democrats this afternoon failed to move forward with a resolution against the president’s troop surge in Iraq that would have excluded any Republican amendments.
“The best way to support the troops is to get the policy right, and today the Republicans prevented us from getting the policy right,” said Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat.
Republicans, however, said they had rebuffed an “unfair” attempt by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to exclude their amendments.
Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, could not move the Senate closer to a vote on the war for the second time in less than two weeks.
Mr. Reid’s attempt to invoke cloture, or to limit debate to 30 more hours before a vote, was defeated by a vote of 56 to 34, with nine Republicans and one Democrat not voting. Cloture requires 60 votes.
Cloture would have effectively shut out any Republican amendments because of a procedural manuever by Mr. Reid.
Republican leaders wanted to offer an amendment that would vow not to cut off funding for U.S. troops in Iraq.
“The reason we’re here on a Saturday playing these stupid political games […] is because our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are afraid to take up a vote on cutting off funding,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.
Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said the Senate is “moving on” from an anti-surge resolution, which the House passed Friday by a vote of 246-to-182.
Democrats will attempt to address the war by attaching amendments to legislation adopting recommendations from the 9/11 Commission when they return Feb. 27, after a week-long recess for President’s Day.
But Democrats gave no details on how they would try to block the president’s plan to send around 27,000 more troops to Iraq.
House Democratic leaders have outlined a strategy to restrict the use of money they will appropriate for the military next month, in an attempt to limit military options.
Republicans call that a “slow-bleed” approach that will cut off funds for the war, and Mr. Reid gave no indication of whether he will pursue the same strategy in the Senate.
Democrats gained crossover votes yesterday from seven Republicans, up from just two crossovers nearly two weeks ago on an identical vote. But Republicans said they would not be defeated.
“Harry Reid is not going to be able to stuff us on this one,” said an exercised Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, after the vote.