Filibuster Kills Troop Withdrawal Bill

After staying up all night to make a point, Senate Democrats allowed a cloture vote on the troop withdrawal bill. As expected, it easily failed.

Senate Republicans scuttled a Democratic proposal ordering troop withdrawals from Iraq in a showdown Wednesday that capped an all-night debate on the war. The 52-47 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate under Senate rules. It was a sound defeat for Democrats who say the U.S. military campaign, in its fifth year and requiring 158,000 troops, cannot tame the sectarian violence in Iraq.

[…]

The Democratic proposal, by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., would have required President Bush to start bringing home troops within 120 days and complete the pullout by April 30, 2008. Under the bill, an unspecified number of troops could remain behind to conduct a narrow set of missions: counterterrorism, protecting U.S. assets and training Iraqi security forces.

Republicans were mostly unified in their opposition to sidetrack the legislation, with four exceptions. Three Republicans — Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska — announced previously they support setting a deadline on the war. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is up for re-election next year, also voted to advance the bill. Spokesman Kevin Kelley said Collins believes the measure should be subject to a simple majority vote and not the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster. She opposes the legislation, however, Kelley said.

But voting to end debate is essentially a vote for the legislation, given the numbers. Even if Collins had voted the other way on an up-and-down vote, it would still have been 51-48.

Unless Collins opposes the filibuster as an institution — a defensible position, certainly — it’s hard to make a case for not filibustering this piece of legislation. This is, after all, the most crucial issue of our day. If anything should be subject to the veto of a vehement minority, it’s a change in war policy.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anjin-San says:

    If anything should be subject to the veto of a vehement minority, it’s a change in war policy.

    God forbid that any changes should be made in a war policy that has been such a success…

  2. James Joyner says:

    God forbid that any changes should be made in a war policy that has been such a success…

    I’m not taking a position on the issue other than that it is incredibly important. If anything should require 60 votes in the Senate, it’s this.

  3. Francis says:

    a critical distinction not noted in the title of the post is that the GOP successfully filibustered an amendment to a bill, not the bill itself.

    The bill, which is a defense appropriation bill, was tabled by Reid. It’ll be interesting to see how the press reports on this over the next few weeks. Presumably the President will go on the attack. Whether Reid and the Democrats get any traction on the claim that the bill was blocked by a Republican filibuster will be interesting.

  4. Anjin-San says:

    I’m not taking a position on the issue other than that it is incredibly important

    Perhaps its time to take a stand on this very important issue. Right now, republicans are trying to have it both was, basically saying “well the war was probably a mistake and it is kind of screwed up” but not doing anything about it. Meanwhile our guys are dying for this mistake and Al Qaeda is growing stonger…

  5. Wayne says:

    This may be a little off subject but I listen to some of the Senators last night. They need to brush up on their history.

    First you had Durbin said, “many of the other side like to compare Iraq with WWII. Well when Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor, we didn’t declare war against another country. We didn’t invade China. No, we attack Japan”

    First we were supporting China at the time and that was one of the main reasons Japan attacked us in the first place. Also the first thing we did was declared war on Germany and put our main efforts fighting them.

    Then there was another Senator that said, “Many claim that there would be mass killing if we lift Vietnam. It didn’t happen….”

    Again false, there were mass killing in the area as well as a great number of refugees. Although it doesn’t surprise me. The Dems and liberals are well known for making things up to support their ideas regardless of fact

  6. Anjin-San says:

    Also the first thing we did was declared war on Germany and put our main efforts fighting them.

    Wayne,

    Do you revel in your ignorance? Germany, in fact, declared war on America on Dec 11, 1941, and we declared war in response.

    Geeze, no wonder you admire Bush, he is ignorant and not very bright. You two would have a lot to talk about.

  7. Wayne says:

    Anjin-San
    O.K. my saying “first thing” was an overstatement but it was done soon afterwards. Germany like Saddam did declare war on us first but Germany did not attack us.

    Given the short format of blogs, there are many times technical details are sacrifice for sake of being brief.

    There were actions to secure the pacific against the Japanese. However the main effort was focus on fighting Germany that did not attack us. We did fight both Germany and Japan but again the main effort was on the country that did not attack us.

    I have read many of your post in the past and understand that you have blinders on and you are full of hate plus you ignorance and lack of logic knows no bound.

  8. Bob M says:

    “”Many claim that there would be mass killing if we left Vietnam. It didn’t happen…

    More accurately, with respect to the history if not the inference, he could have said “Many claim that there would be mass killing if we lift Vietnam. It happened. So what? Didn’t hurt you, did it? No, worked out fine for us. No reason we shouldn’t do it again!”

  9. Wayne says:

    Bob
    True. Some may disagree with the conclusion but the base argument is accurate.

  10. Jake says:

    Filibuster, huh? Looks like it’s time to bring the ol’ nuclear option back. Whoever could have foreseen such irony?

  11. Anjin-san says:

    Wayne,

    Saying America declared war on Germany first in ww2 is not an “overstatement”. It is flat wrong and its a fact a 9th grader should know. Its sort of like Bush saying that Iraq was involved in 9-11 or that our main purpose in Iraq is fighting Al Queda. You know, like, total crap…

  12. Wayne says:

    Anjin-san
    Typical lib, you accuse me of saying something that I did not. I did not say we declare war on Germany first. I said after the attack on Pearl Harbor “the first thing we did was declare war on Germany” which should have read “one of the first thing we did”. We were going to war with Germany regardless of who declare war first. We were already in the war to an extent. We were supplying and supporting Russia and England in there efforts long before Pearl Harbor. Which I guess some would consider acts of war. After all many wars are never officially declared but wage anyway.

    You must be conceding you losing on my other points since you want to concentrate on a simple bad phrasing\overstatement that I did that has little to do with the main point.

    Yes technically the first thing most probably did was gasp but that not even true for all.