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June 15, 2006
Cut And Run Gets Run Out Of Senate

Both houses of Congress spent today debating the Iraq War and the troop deployment, and the Senare voted on a bill presented by the GOP caucus that mirrored John Kerry's amendment to the defense authorization bill calling for a withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq by the end of the year. When the rhetorical dust had settled, the motion failed by a whopping 93-6 vote, embarrassing Democrats who have stepped up calls for exactly such a withdrawal:

The Senate rejected a call for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq by year's end on Thursday as Congress erupted in impassioned, election-year debate over a conflict that now has claimed the lives of 2,500 American troops.

The vote was 93-6 to shelve the proposal, which would have allowed "only forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces" to remain in 2007. ...

The Senate voted unfolded unexpectedly as the second-ranking leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced legislation he said was taken from a proposal by Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and war critic. It called for Bush to agree with the Iraqi government on a schedule for withdrawal of combat troops by Dec. 31, 2006.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said if the United States withdrew, "I am absolutely convinced the terrorists would see this as vindication." He predicted terrorism would spread around the world, and eventually reach the United States.

Democrats sought to curtail floor debate on the proposal, and the vote occurred quickly.

Kerry and other Democrats accused Republicans of political gamesmanship, and promised an authentic debate next week. He and five other Democrats were in the minority on the vote — Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer of California, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Like its predecessor in the House last fall, the Democrats that have demanded such a move saw all support for their position disappear once the Republicans forced a vote on the issue. Kerry demonstrated his residence in the fringe of American politics with his slim coterie of supporters, all but Robert Byrd occupying the far-left side of the Democratic caucus. It also shows the bankruptcy of their argument that they would again make this demand after a week that has shown so much promise, as Nouri al-Maliki has hit the ground running as PM in the new Iraqi government by deploying Iraqi forces successfully to root out terrorists and start to bring calm to Baghdad.

Some have complained that the Republicans did this as a political stunt; the same complaints came last year in response to John Murtha's demands being sent as a resolution to the House floor. Those complaints ring very hollow, especially as it applies to John Kerry. Kerry has spent the past week writing columns and making speeches demanding a complete withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year. That is politics as well, and any notion that Democrats aren't trying to harness anti-war sentiment or Iraq fatigue for the midterm elections is laughable on its face. Kerry himself proposed an amendment demanding the exact same action on June 12!

If anyone politicized this issue, John Kerry, with a lot of help from the Democratic caucuses in both houses. For those who find themselves annoyed because the cut-and-run poses from Kerry, Feingold, Kennedy, Boxer, Harkin, and Kennedy make the Republicans look good, they should direct their ire to Kerry and the Freak-Out Five. Congress exists for the debate and resolution of issues, and Kerry initiated the debate with his amendment. The GOP leadership simply gave Kerry what his action demanded -- debate and a vote that put everyone in the Senate on record as to whether they would abandon the Iraqis before they could effectively defend themselves.

Now we know the extent of the cut-and-run caucus in the upper chamber; they put themselves on record. If that qualifies as a "stunt" for some people, they must regard the entire American experiment as a strange public-relations campaign where the only issues that Congress can handle are how cold a refrigerator should get while storing cash.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 15, 2006 3:49 PM

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