In a move Democrats criticized as gamesmanship, Senate Republicans brought up the withdrawal measure and quickly dispatched it — for now — on a 93-6 vote.When a Senate vote to withdraw troops from Iraq is defeated by a 93-6 count, is it a sign that there is an actual debate on the issue or is it simply a way for Democrats to get up before Congress and provide a bunch of soundbites for the upcoming election? The House is expected to vote on a similar measure today.
The proposal would have allowed "only forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces" to remain in Iraq in 2007.
Across Capitol Hill in a daylong House debate, Republicans defended the Iraq war as a key part of the global fight against terrorism while Democrats assailed President Bush's war policies and called for a new direction in the conflict.
"When our freedom is challenged, Americans do not run," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said in remarks laden with references to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"This is a war that is a grotesque mistake," countered House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California. She called for a fresh strategy — "one that will make us safer, strengthen our military, and restore our reputation in the world."
Democrats complain that the Republicans put the matter to a vote, but all it does is point out the serious inconsistencies in the Democrats' position on Iraq. They're being repeatedly forced to decide whether to show their support for the war by voting for these measures, or vote on measures that outline precisely what the likes of John Murtha and John Kerry call for - an immediate withdrawal of troops or a repositioning of troops to areas outside of Iraq leaving only some minimum figure to be drawn down over time.
And each time the vote comes up, the Democrats vote to kill the measure - in an overwhelming fashion. Is it any wonder that the anti-war left is throwing hissy fits each time this happens? They keep seeing their so-called standard bearers getting hoisted upon their petards and watching their position get no support whatsoever when it actually counts - in the actual votes.
The Democrats claim that they're for a fresh approach, but can't offer anything up other than say they'd do something differently. It isn't exactly a good time to make that argument when US forces dispatched Zarqawi, and followed that up with coalition raids on hundreds of sites netting even more terrorists and intel. And the Iraqi security forces are operating with increasing efficiency, allowing US forces to provide more guidance and less front line roles.
The Republican position is staked upon winning in Iraq, which stands in contrast to how the Democrats are framing the matter, especially by their most vocal members, who see the current situation as one of defeat and despair. Well, there is defeat and despair, but it's among Democrats who are seeing success in Iraq undermining their chances to win elections in November.
The House measure passed 256-153. CNN notes that "the measure labels the Iraq war part of a global fight on terrorism and says an "arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of troops is not in the national interest." In other word, it extends upon what Vice President Cheney said yesterday.
The vote was pretty much along party lines, and goes further on tying Iraq to the larger war on terror campaign than what the Senate measure, which hewed closely to the issue of withdrawal from Iraq in a speedy manner.
The House vote decries the setting of arbitrary dates for withdrawal or redeployment. That's as it should be. Why give our enemies a cheap and easy victory by letting them know when the US will leave the area - and let them know that if they simply hold out through a set date, they'll win by default.
Here's the roll call for the House vote. 42 Democrats broke ranks to join with Republicans in approving the measure while 3 Republicans broke with the party to join with Democrats opposing the measure.