Hours after blocking a vote on restoring habeas corpus rights to detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Senate Republicans and Joe Lieberman blocked consideration Wednesday of a bill that would have guaranteed U.S. troops as much time at home as they spend deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Both measures had bipartisan support, but not enough to get Senate Democrats over the 60-vote hurdle that a Republicans-plus-Lieberman filibuster would have presented. Republicans Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, John Sununu and Gordon Smith joined all Democrats in voting to move forward on the habeas corpus bill. The same group -- minus Specter and Lugar, plus Norm Coleman and Susan Collins -- joined all Democrats in voting to move forward on Jim Webb's troop bill.
After the remaining Republicans joined Lieberman in killing Webb's bill, the Senate considered whether to proceed with a watered-down, nonbinding "sense of the Senate" measure John McCain proposed as a way to provide cover for Republicans who didn't want to be seen as voting against the troops. Although Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Tim Johnson, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson and Bill Nelson crossed over to support what Webb called a "fig leaf" of a bill, enough Democrats stuck together in opposition to block McCain's measure from getting an up-or-down vote either.
Having thereby blocked actual consideration of three different measures aimed at addressing two of the most critical issues facing the United States today, the Senate adjourned for the evening.