They’re debating it right now on C-SPAN2. There may or may not be a vote tonight, it may or may not involve Republican counter-resolutions, and the GOP may or may not have the 41 votes needed to filibuster.
Hope that clears things up.
WaPo tries to untangle the wires:
Democratic leaders thought they had secured bipartisan support for a measure last week when they agreed to back a resolution of opposition to President Bush’s troop-escalation plan drafted largely by a Republican, Sen. John Warner of Virginia.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appears to have rallied his nervous GOP troops behind him in threatening to block a debate unless the Democrats agree to allow votes on two Republican resolutions.
One of those resolutions, by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), states that the Constitution gives the president the responsibility for deployment and assignment of missions of U.S. military forces, and that Congress has the responsibility to fully fund those missions. [Huh? — ed.] The second proposed resolution, by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), would support Bush’s proposal to deploy 21,500 additional troops to Iraq but would set firm benchmarks for the Iraqi government to achieve after the deployment.
The Democrats want a vote on the Warner resolution opposing that deployment and demanding new policies to bring peace to the region, as well as a second resolution simply stating opposition to the president’s plan and demanding that U.S. troops be equipped with appropriate body armor and protection.
Lieberman’s voting with the GOP so Harry Reid needs 10 Republican defectors. According to WaPo, at last count, he has seven in the bank and Lamar Alexander, Larry Craig, Lisa Murkowski, and Specter are undecided. Alexander and Craig are up for re-election in two years, as are 17 other Republican senators.
For all his faults, St. John is right on the money here:
“I hope they keep in mind that this is fundamentally a vote of no confidence in the people that we are sending on this mission in harm’s way. We are telling them, ‘we support you but we believe your mission will fail. We don’t believe what you’re doing,’ ” McCain said.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that you disapprove of a mission and you don’t want to fund it and you don’t want it to go, but yet you don’t take the action necessary to prevent it,” he added.
Question: Is a GOP filibuster really so bad for the Democrats? They don’t want to do anything about the surge, just in case it actually works; all they want is to make a show for the cretins in their base. Forcing the Republicans to block them accomplishes that, with an added bonus of getting to point the finger afterwards at McConnell for thwarting the will of the people, obstructing the legislative process to protect the president, etc. Granted, it’s not quite as good as getting Republicans who are up for re-election to put their name to a vote supporting the war, but if you’re into meaningless symbolic gestures, you can do worse than a filibustered anti-surge resolution.
They’re voting on whether to proceed to debate on the Warner-Levin anti-surge resolution now. Standby.
Update: 49 votes for, 47 against: the motion to proceed to debate fails. Reid has moved to reconsider it. Says Reuters, “The measure could still be revived, but the way ahead was unclear.”
Update: Has the crackdown in Baghdad already begun? An Aussie paper says the Iraqi army has killed one of Sadr’s top aides in the suburbs north of the city:
The US military said that Hamadani had reportedly been responsible for attacks on US and Iraqi troops and was believed to have “facilitated and directed numerous kidnappings, assassinations and other violence”.
They said two Iraqi soldiers shot him dead after storming a building and finding him armed with an assault rifle and “displaying hostile intent”.
Iraqi police said Hamadani had been the leader of Sadr’s political office in Diyala province. In their report on the incident, they said he was shot when he tried to flee.
But Sadr official Matiri said he had not been shot but stabbed with a bayonet.
Update: Fox has a good recap of the Senate debate:
“They may succeed today, but they won’t succeed beyond today,” said the majority whip, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.
“There will be a debate on this war, it may not be this week, it may not be this bill, it may not be this resolution, there will be a debate because the American people made it clear in the last election it is time for a new direction.”…
Democrats said they would enter into a second round of negotiations with Republicans on how to proceed to debate Iraq resolutions.
Update: I don’t get it. Why on earth did Harry Reid vote no?
Update: According to the Times, it was the resolution that took no position on the surge that was likeliest to pass: “That second alternative, authored by Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, was proving problematic for Democrats since it was likely to garner a substantial amount of support and potentially be the resolution capable of winning the 60 votes that Republicans say should be a threshold for passage.”
Update: Powerline thinks Reid switched his vote as a procedural matter, so that he could ask for a reconsideration.