Withdrawal plan fails in Senate

Twenty-nine Democrats call for withdrawal by March 31, 2008.

Published May 16, 2007 3:59PM (EDT)

The Senate has just rejected Russ Feingold's bill that would have required George W. Bush to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008, as well as a milder Republican measure that would have conditioned future foreign aid payments to Iraq on a presidential certification of progress there.

While defeat of the Feingold measure was expected, the vote shows that a majority of the Democrats in the Senate are willing to go on record in support of a fixed end date for the war -- at least when there's no chance that the measure they're supporting will actually pass.

Today's test votes aren't votes on the withdrawal or no-withdrawal measures themselves; they're votes on cloture motions that would, with 60 votes in favor, put the measures on the floor for actual up-or-down votes.

Democrats who voted against cloture on the Feingold measure today: Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, Jeff Bingaman, Thomas Carper, Bob Casey, Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, Mary Landrieu, Carl Levin, Blanche Lincoln, Claire McCaskill, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jack Reed, Jay Rockefeller, Ken Salazar, Jon Tester and Jim Webb. Democrats Sherrod Brown and Tim Johnson and Republicans John McCain and Elizabeth Dole did not vote. All remaining Democrats voted for cloture; all remaining Republicans voted against it.

Sen. John Warner's measure, which would have cut off foreign aid to Iraq unless the president either certified that the Iraqi government was making adequate progress or waived the need for such a certification, drew the support of most Senate Republicans, seven Democrats and Joe Lieberman but still fell short of the 60 votes needed for cloture.

Update: As we noted earlier, the Senate was also expected to vote today on a measure introduced by Carl Levin that would have imposed a March 31, 2008, deadline for withdrawal but also would have given the president the right to waive that requirement. Levin withdrew the measure before it came up for a cloture vote. He said he had offered the measure only as a way to avoid another veto, and that White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley had told him that, even with the waiver provision, the president would veto the measure if passed.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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