Highlights from the Iraq debate

Senators on the troops, the Iraqis, and a little bit of woulda, coulda, shoulda.

By Julia Dahl

Published July 10, 2007 11:46PM (EDT)

The Senate continued debate today on the 2008 defense authorization act , a $648 billion spending bill that would provide funding for everything from buying weapons to reviewing the military's sexual assault policy. On Monday, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., introduced his amendment to the bill, which would set a floor for the amount of time at home a soldier must receive between deployments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., is expected to move to limit debate on Webb's amendment tomorrow so as to attempt to force a vote.

But Webb's proposal wasn't the only thing on the mind of the senators, and as might be expected, the debate on what many people consider the most important issue facing the nation right was wide-ranging. Some senators focused on the plight of the troops if the U.S. doesn't leave, and some on the plight of Iraqis if it does. Here are some highlights:

On Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:
John McCain, R-Ariz.: "The government of Prime Minister Maliki is not functioning as it must."
Joe Biden, D-Del.: "I don't think Maliki has it in his bone marrow, in his heart or his brain, the desire to reconcile with the Sunnis. And even if he did, he doesn't have the capacity."
Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: "The Iraqi political leadership that exists today is paralyzed."

On al-Qaida:
Kit Bond, R-Mo.: "We are defeating al-Qaida."
Graham: "Al-Qaida is on the run."
McCain: "Already the terrorists are emboldened, excited that America is talking not about winning in Iraq, but is rather debating when we should lose."

On hindsight:
McCain: "I wish we had planned to fight this war correctly the first time."
Biden: "[I]f the president had followed the recommendation of the senator from Delaware and then the senator from Arizona, back before there was a civil war, to put enough troops in to solidify the situation on the ground, we might not be here."

On the troops:
McCain: "The soldiers I met last week have no illusions about the sacrifices necessary to achieve their mission."
Dick Durbin, D-Ill.: "Are we really being fair to them?"

On the future:
Biden: "Not in the lifetime of anyone on this floor, including these talented young pages, will there be a unity government in Baghdad that has the confidence of all the Iraqi people, able to maintain security, provide opportunity, and have a stable unity government. It will not happen."

Julia Dahl

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