February 19, 2007
In an unusual Saturday session for the Senate, the anti-surge resolution came four votes short of the necessary 60 votes to avoid cloture, and therefore failed. The Washington Post listed the seven Republican senators who voted with the Democrats:
In addition, nine Republicans did not vote, including John McCain, which is surprising given his ardent (?) pro-surge stand. Some conservatives are angry at the seven GOP moderates, most of whom were part of the "Gang of 14" who brokered a compromise to avoid the "nuclear option" in May 2005. One should bear in mind, however, that the vote was only about the procedural question of whether to allow the debate to proceed. It was not a vote against the President's "surge" policy per se.
The Senate vote was not the end of the story, however. Rep. John Murtha made crystal clear his intention not just to expression opposition to Bush, but to undermine the U.S. military mission in Iraq. He said the House's resolution was not that important, and that the "real vote" would come when the Defense appropriations bill comes up for consideration. He really thinks he is going to force Bush's hand by cutting off funds for the additional troops, causing a slow "bleed" of resources. If he goes ahead with that, it may precipitate a constitutional crisis of similar scale to the Iran-Contra controversy or Watergate. In today's Post, Robert Novak rakes Murtha over the coals as a mediocre has-been whose main claim to fame is procuring "pork barrel" benefits for the folks back home, but now thinks he can grab some nation-wide glory before retiring. Novak reminds us that "Murtha was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1980 Abscam investigation." Interestingly, the Post's editors had a similarly critical view of Murtha's position, which would not only undermine national security but put the Democratic leadership in a very bad light at a critical moment in the war.
Sen. John McCain faces some vocal critics [in his own party back in Arizona; they "seem determined to derail his White House chances," but the validity of the presidential "straw poll" organized by local Republicans has been disputed.] See the The Arizona Republic; hat tip to Uncle Bill.