The Senate’s Turn

Let’s do a little live blogging — I’m waiting for the Senate Iraq War resolution vote and listening to Senators of both parties, all of whom seem a bit ragged today. The Republican point of view seems to be —

1. A nonbinding resolution will have no effect. However,

2. This same resolution will defund the war, leave our soldiers stranded and helpless in the Middle East, and enable an Islamofascist takeover of the United States.

They seem to be having some sort of procedural squabble. The Republicans are whining that they aren’t being allowed a “fair debate.” Please …

Harry Reid is speaking now; he is accusing Senate Republicans of trying to stop a vote on a nonbinding resolution that might embarrass President Bush. Party loyalty is asking too much, Reid says.

A week ago the Senate Dems were complaining that Republican maneuvering had stopped a debate. Margaret Talev, Renee Schoof and Steven Thomma write for McClatchy Newspapers (February 9):

Having banked on the promise that Democrats would force a change of course in Iraq if they won control of Congress, some of the people who helped the Democrats get there are growing impatient.

They’re frustrated that Democrats sank so much energy into a nonbinding resolution then dropped the bipartisan plan of Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., like a hot potato when Republican leaders who support President Bush maneuvered them into a corner.

All the finagling has gotten in the way of a formal debate or vote in the Senate on Bush’s plans for Iraq. …

… Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said her constituents thought Republicans were trying to protect Bush “from the embarrassment of a public way of saying `you’re wrong’ in a bipartisan fashion.”

But she’s frustrated by a Senate rule that lets the minority party put the majority in a corner because 60 of the 100 members must agree to force a debate or a vote. …

Many Republicans say the Warner-Levin resolution is pointless and that without the force of law it could demoralize the troops. They say the president’s troop increase in Iraq should be given a chance.

So they said they’d block consideration of the resolution unless Democrats also debated a resolution by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., that would support the troops and take no position on a troop increase.

Democrats saw a trap: If they backed Gregg’s resolution, then didn’t get 60 votes on Warner-Levin, the only formal statement out of the Senate would voice no opposition to the troop increase. If they rejected Gregg’s, opponents would run ads accusing them of hurting the troops.

Their decision: Hold off on a formal debate. Senators who are critical of Iraq policy have been waiting a long time for a debate, though, which they couldn’t get when Republicans were in charge.

That was last week. Now they’re having a roll call vote on whether to close debate on the resolution so they can go forward to the vote.

Lieberman voted with the Republicans against cloture. Susan Collins voted with the Democrats for cloture.

Chuck Hagel voted yes, also.

This isn’t the resolution vote, remember. They’re just voting on whether to close the debate.

A bobblehead on CNN is saying that there don’t appear to be enough “yes” votes to close debate.

A talking head on MSNBC says that the Dems will probably fall four votes short. Forty-nine Dems (probably) will vote yes for cloture (Lieberman voted no; Tim Johnson is still in the hospital).

Yes, they are four votes short; 56 votes yes; 34 votes no. They needed sixty. Reid is saying a majority in the Senate just voted against the surge, although of course that’s not official. Ten Republicans didn’t bother to show up. Seven Republicans voted for cloture. I’ll try to find a list and post it later.

Update: What Oliver Willis says.

12 thoughts on “The Senate’s Turn

  1. I find a common denominator between the refusal to debate at home and the refusal to use diplomacy abroad. Both avoid thoughtful engagement while allowing an empty slate upon which to frame the other side.

  2. Yes to Reid’s common sense summation: A majority of the Senate just voted against the surge…..
    and the corollary is that the majority of Republicans just voted against the will of the people and did so under cover of ‘pretending’ that they couldn’t take a public stand on this legislation…… until they debated a different piece of legislation.

  3. Well Maha,
    Anyone with half a brain realizes that us lefties intend to leave the “troops” stranded in the sands of Mesopotamia with no food, water, or weapons. We on the left also want our country to be overrun with militant islamofascists, and the sooner, the better.The right has many with half a brain.
    I certainly hope lawmakers on both side of the debate will call bullshit on these talking points.”Support the Troops” means “support the war”, its about time someone set them straight, with over 3,100 soldiers blown away for a neocon pipe dream. This “lefty” wants the “troops” pulled out now, funding cut off tomorrow, and the assholes that got us into this mess prosecuted, stripped of their wealth and dignity, then deported.
    I’m refering to Perle, Wolofowitz, Feith, Adleman, Frum, Pipes,Shulski,Kristol, and all their little butt buddies at the AEI that Bush needs to genuflect to several times a year..Box ’em up and send them U.P.S to Baghdad to finish their scheme of “creative destruction”.Yeah, I’m PISSED!

  4. Yeah, maha, please post the tally if you can find it. If 7 Republicans voted for cloture…. Aw, dammit, Ho Lieberman has the whole US Congress by the balls.

  5. Mitch McConnell is bellyaching about being deprived of an open and honest debate….I have to agree with him there…If they’re not debating the lies and deceptions that lead us into Iraq than they’re not being honest..
    I didn’t get to see the live debate, but I bet most of the Senators either opened or closed their statements with a” God bless our troops” or some other sort of insincere adulation or praise prompted by peer pressure. Words are cheap…Don’t tell me how much you love me with your actions. Seems they are going to love our troops to death.

  6. I’m a big supporter of minority rights in the Senate, but I’m wondering what ever happened to the old-fashioned ‘Mr. Smith Goes To Washington’ filibuster, where at least the minority was required to experience some discomfort for failing to compromise? Had the framers of the Constitution intended that every action of the Senate require a 60 percent vote, they would have written it that way, and not bothered with the Vice-President as tie-breaker rule.

    I despair for our country when I have to spend inordinate amounts of time on the intricacies of Senate procedure just to understand how, exactly, it is that said chamber is incapable of even accomplishing a vote on a bill with both only rhetorical effect and yet with majority support.

  7. Note: if Tim Johnson was well and Sam Brownback was honest, we’d be at 58. If Connecticut would stop electing a Republican Senator, 59.

    And if Americans quit following the leads of Texans into wars, people around the globe might think there’s something worth emulating in American democracy.

  8. I despair for our country when I have to spend inordinate amounts of time on the intricacies of Senate procedure just to understand how, exactly, it is that said chamber is incapable of even accomplishing a vote on a bill with both only rhetorical effect and yet with majority support.

    biggerbox’s comment completely sums it up for me.

    57 to 34, or was it 56? At least our boy Hagel voted the right way this time. And where were the other 8 or 9 senators? (Not counting Sen. Johnson, still hospitalized.)

    No wonder the populace thinks Congress ain’t worth shit.

  9. The unusual weekend session sent presidential contenders in both parties scrambling to make the roll call.

    One of them, Democratic Sen.
    Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, squeezed in a morning appearance in New Hampshire, where she told one audience, “We have to end this war and we can’t do it without Republican votes.”

    Nine Republicans skipped the Senate session, calculating that because they support Bush’s policies, their votes would not affect the outcome of the vote.

    Among them was Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) of Arizona, a presidential hopeful who campaigned in Iowa. He called the Senate vote meaningless, and told one audience the symbolic measures are “insulting to the public and the soldiers.”

    At least two Republican lawmakers chose to leave on an official trip to Iraq rather than remain behind for the vote.

  10. Fact: McCain said the public would be insulted by this vote
    Fact: A majority of the public is against the war
    Fact: McCain is running for president
    Fact: One needs a majority of the voting public to win presidency
    …… ummm….. nevermind

    Seriously though, this guy is starting to scare me.
    In reference to Iran’s Ahmadinejad he said: “whose name I refuse to learn to pronounce.” “Those are bad people.” “Those are bad people.”
    Apparently, those hugs and kisses McCain shared with Bush resulted in more than mutual respect. To think I once considered voting for the guy.

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