Yesterday, the Senate held two important votes:
- On the Feingold Amendment, which called for transitioning the mission
- And on the Warner amendment, which would have required the President to certify that the Iraqi government is meeting benchmarks in order to receive U.S. aid.
I supported the Feingold amendment, which provided a real change of course out of the war. I opposed the Warner amendment, because after more than four years of war, 3,400 American deaths, 20,000 wounded, and nearly $500 million in taxpayer dollars spent, we need action, not more reports – especially those without consequences.
Yet while I supported one vote and opposed the other, I am encouraged by both. They show real and growing momentum on both sides of the aisle away from this tragic and endless war.
As the Los Angeles Times reported this morning, “The votes illustrated Congress’ dramatic response to public dismay with the war.” And as CNN’s Dana Bash said, “It was a milestone in the Iraq war debate. For the first time, the vast majority of the President’s fellow Republicans voted to directly challenge his Iraq policy.”
Here is the LA Times article Senator Reid was referring to on the Senate Floor:
Forty-four Republican senators backed a plan Wednesday to tie continued economic aid to Iraq to the performance of its government, the strongest demonstration yet of GOP willingness to impose limits on President Bush’s management of the war.
And in an indication of growing Democratic resolve to force an end to the war, a majority of Democratic senators supported a second measure to cut off funding for most combat operations in Iraq by the end of March.
Both proposals failed to win the support needed to proceed to a debate and a vote.
Despite the failure of the measures — amendments to an unrelated bill to fund water projects — the votes illustrated Congress’ dramatic response to public dismay with the war.
“It is clear that change is in the air,” Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said after the votes. “Our resolutions have not passed, but they will pass. I don’t know how many more bodies will come home, how many more injured soldiers there will be. But a growing tension in this country over this war will lead us to the right conclusion.”
Vote by vote Democrats in Congress are building momentum for changing course in Iraq. From the Las Vegas Sun today:
“Republicans are beginning to realize the current path in Iraq is unsustainable,” Reid told reporters after the vote. “At least Republicans are now recognizing they’ve got to give the president something.”
Democrats on both sides of the Capitol are chipping away at Republican support for Bush’s war strategy and solidifying their own. Last week nearly 40 percent of House members voted to get out of the war, surprising even their leadership. Public opinion is on Democrats’ side as polls show most Americans want the war over.
Vote by vote, Democrats are forcing their fellow party members as well as Republicans to choose whether to stand by the Bush administration, and potentially face a voter backlash next year at the polls, or join them in beginning to draw down troops.
Senator Reid concluded his this morning’s statement with this:
[A]s we move this debate to conference, the American people deserve to know that the Democrats’ commitment to bring this war to its responsible end has never been stronger. And if enough of our Republican colleagues decide to join with us, even the President of the United States will have to listen.