Senate Vote on Non-Binding Resolution Brings Candidates Back to Work on Saturday

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called for a rare Saturday vote on the non-binding resolution that is critical of President Bush’s call for increased troops in Iraq. It is identical to the resolution just passed in the house. The vote in the House on Friday was 246-182, with 17 Republicans breaking ranks to support the measure and two Democrats voting in opposition of it. The Senate vote fell four short of the 60 needed with 56 for it, and 34 against it. 7 Republicans broke ranks and voted for it this time, compared to only 2 the last time this measure failed in the Senate. Turncoat Joe Lieberman sided with the Republicans on this vote. The debate was bitter at times, and the Democrats claimed victory in the end even though it failed. “A majority of the United States Senate is against the escalation in Iraq,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “As for the Republicans who chose once again to block further debate and protect President Bush, the American people now know they support the escalation.” The vote was non-binding, so it’s only a symbolic statement against Bush and his plans for the Iraq war. Many of the Presidential candidates felt so strongly about this statement that they paused a busy campaign weekend to go back to DC for this vote. Among those voting was Hillary who came in from New Hampshire. Hillary told her New Hampshire audience that, “We have to end this war and we can’t do it without Republican votes.” Recognizing their Senate majority is a slim one. Other Democratic hopefuls attending the vote was Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd. Biden had this to say about the vote, “Opposing the surge is only a first step. If the president won’t act, Congress must.”
Among the Republican hopefuls showing up was Chuck Hagel who sided with the Democrats on this one, and Sam Brownback who sided with his party and voted against the resolution. Nine Senate Republicans didn’t even bother to show because they already support President Bush, and see no reason to vote against him, besides their votes would not affect the outcome. Among the no shows was candidate John McCain who called the vote meaningless and told one audience that symbolic measures are, “insulting to the public and the soldiers.” McCain’s decision to skip the vote drew strong criticism from Democratic candidate Tom Vilsack, “If Senator McCain believes that our country should stay the course with Bush’s failed policy in Iraq, then he has a moral duty to stay in Washington and explain why,” Bill Richardson said that the House and Senate were wasting time with non-binding resolutions. “Look, I served in Congress for 15 years so I know what they are trying to do,” Richardson said in an interview. “I know this is getting a lot of headlines, but it does nothing to change the reality in Iraq or the fact this president is just not listening to them.” I think Richardson nailed that one right on the head.
Alan Cosgrove

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