Yesterday, we discussed Sen. Chris Dodd's statement calling on the Senate leadership to have an up or down vote on Feingold-Reid instead of attaching it as an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act Reauthorization currently on the floor. The vote on the amendment is expected tomorrow. Senator Dodd's position is that Feingold-Reid should get a direct vote – not a cloture vote which he believes does not represent a position on the contents of the amendment but simply on the continuation of discussion and voting.
Senator Dodd called on the other presidentials to co-sponsor Feingold-Reid and/or express their position on it. So today, we wanted to update everyone on the other candidate's statements and see what you think.
You'll also see mention of the Reid-Levin amendment so first a little primer from Government Executive:
Reid is allowing his party's liberals to vent their frustration by voting on an amendment similar to legislation sponsored by Reid and Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., that would require withdrawal of forces by March 31, 2008, other than for more limited roles such as training Iraqi forces, protecting U.S. facilities and conducting anti-terrorism operations.
That amendment is unlikely to get 60 votes, but Reid will have given senators a chance to vote on their preferred approach before having to settle for something less strict.
The placeholder bill would provide $120 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and some domestic projects. It would retain the same Oct. 1 deadline for beginning the troop pullout from Iraq but allow Bush to waive the requirement.
"By providing for the presidential waiver, we are removing any reason for the president to veto the supplemental funding bill," Levin said in a statement.
Here's what what the other candidates* said today (please take a minute to read their full statements which give much more background on their overall positions):
"I would actually go further than Reid-Feingold and use the funding authority, not just to set an ultimate deadline, but to force an immediate withdrawal of 40-50,000 troops, followed by a complete withdrawal in about a year. But using the funding authority to bring this war to an end is exactly the right thing to do. Every Senator who believes this war is wrong and wants to end it should support Reid-Feingold."
"Tomorrow, I will cast my vote to send the President a clear message: Democrats are united in fighting to change course, redeploy our troops out of Iraq, and end this war as soon as possible.
When the Senate votes on motions to allow debate on both the Feingold-Reid and Reed-Levin Amendments, I will vote for cloture on both. I do so because we, as a united party, must work together with clarity of purpose and mission to begin bringing our troops home and end this war."
“Tomorrow, I expect cloture votes on two other proposals. One is the Reid-Feingold plan, which would begin a withdrawal of troops in 120 days and end all combat operations on April 1. The other is Senator Levin's proposal, which would create standards and benchmarks for additional funding.
“I will support both, not because I believe either is the best answer, but because I want to send a strong statement to the Iraqi government, the President and my Republican colleagues that it's long past time to change course.
“Meanwhile, I'll continue to press for my own plan, and work to find the 16 votes in the Senate to pass it with a veto-proof majority and bring our troops home quickly, safely and responsibly."
"Reid-Feingold is another step in the right direction, but it still leaves too many troops in Iraq.
"The most recent House funding bill finances the war through August 1st. This extends the war longer than it should –we can and should de-authorize this war today, and start bringing our troops home tomorrow.
Then the controversy begins: Apparently, Senator Reid feels this is the best way to give senators opportunity to vote on Feingold-Reid. Senator Feingold's statement says:
“I appreciate the Majority Leader’s work to bring up the Feingold-Reid legislation for a vote. The American people deserve to have the Senate go on record about whether or not it wants to end our misguided mission in Iraq and safely redeploy our brave troops.”
While Senator Obama is being criticized for his position over at TalkLeft, I'd personally question both Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama's positions – voting for cloture on both Feingold-Reid and Reid-Levin – seems to talk around the issue rather than answer it head on.
The parliamentary manuevering makes it hard for us all to understand. Is attaching the amendment a good idea? Does it give some candidates a pass on actually voting on Feingold-Reid while having the "cover" of the cloture vote? Or is it a way to continue to press the White House to end the war? What do you think?
(*Sen. Biden's campaign referred us to his senate office and we will update if we receive a response. We also were unable to get a comment from Sen. Gravel's office before this post.)
Photo: US President George W. Bush walks to his Marine One helicopter in Washington, DC. The showdown between Bush and lawmakers over Iraq was headed to the Senate, after the House of Representatives voted to fund the war in segments of just a few months.(AFP/Saul Loeb)