Senate Republicans have blocked a Democratic proposal to begin a partial withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Fifty-two senators voted to support the pull-out measure proposed by Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Jack Reed, but the Democratic leadership failed to get the needed 60 votes to break the Republican filibuster. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZALEZ: On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans blocked a proposal by Democrats on Wednesday to begin a partial withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Fifty-two senators voted to support the pullout measure proposed by Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Jack Reed, but the Democratic leadership failed to get the needed 60 votes to break the Republican filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid first tried to break the filibuster by keeping the Senate in session around the clock on Tuesday night. When that failed, Reid announced he would withdraw the entire defense authorization bill in an attempt to pressure Republican lawmakers.
SEN. HARRY REID: Republicans chose to block this amendment. They chose to block a bipartisan amendment, Mr. President, to deny the American people an up-or-down vote. They chose to continue protecting their president instead of our troops, no matter the cost to our country. In contrast, my Democratic colleagues and a number of brave Republicans came to the floor throughout the night to make our case, and I’m proud of what they’ve said and what they’ve done. We’ve spent two days showing America that we’re not going to back down, we’re going to continue to fight, that if President Bush and his allies in Congress refuse to budge, we’ll continue to show them the way.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky criticized Reid’s tactics.
SEN. MITCH McCONNELL: Last night’s theatrics accomplished nothing. Nearly every major newspaper in America noted this morning that we could have had the vote on the Levin troop withdrawal amendment without any of the fanfare. And that’s really all it amounted to, a sound and fury, because after 24 hours of debate, after all the gags and giggles and gimmicks, the cold pizza and the empty cots, the essential thing remained unsaid. We still don’t know what the amendment we’re about to vote on would mean for our troops, our allies, our mission or our interests.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The bill’s co-sponsor, Senator Carl Levin, urged lawmakers to support a partial withdrawal of troops.
SEN. CARL LEVIN: If there’s any hope of forcing the Iraqi political leaders to take responsibility for their own country, it’s to have a timetable to begin reducing American forces and to redeploy our forces to a more limited support mission, instead of being everybody’s target in the middle of a civil war. That transition is the only way that we can force the Iraqi leaders to act. If the Republican leaders’ procedural roadblock succeeds this morning, we will be denied the opportunity to vote on an issue which just about every American has strong feelings on.