60 votes were needed, only 56 were to be had. That’s six more than the Dems got two weeks ago when they tried to invoke cloture on the more complicated Warner resolution, which not only denounced the surge but demanded new policies in the region. (Well, technically, it’s seven more, but Harry Reid voted with the Republicans last time merely in order to preserve his right to call for a reconsideration). The House measure they voted on today jettisoned all the extra crap and gave them a chance to vote yes or no on the simple question of whether to oppose the “escalation.” It was the first baby step in Murtha’s slow bleed strategy, and it failed. Hard to see where they go from here, although as I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s any big loss for the left:
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.
Standby for the roll. I didn’t watch the whole vote as it happened, but I watched long enough to see Norm Coleman vote yes. Captain Ed is surprised, as was I, but neither of us should have been — Coleman also voted yes on cloture re: the Warner resolution.
Update: The only Republicans to vote with the Dems last time were Coleman and Susan Collins. Joining them today: John Warner, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, Chuck Hagel, and Gordon Smith. Not voting: McCain, who was out campaigning, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Bennett, Thad Cochran, Bob Corker, Kit Bond, John Ensign, Jon Kyl, Orrin Hatch, and of course Tim Johnson, who’s still recuperating from his stroke. All are Republicans except Johnson. Reid was hoping to get Lamar Alexander and Larry Craig to cross the aisle, since both are up for reelection in two years and were rumored to be wavering, but he couldn’t pull it off.
Update: Of the seven Republicans who voted for cloture, only Snowe and Specter aren’t facing reelection in 2008.
Update: McConnell’s willing to trade a non-binding expression of disapproval for a promise that they won’t cut off funds:
Republicans blasted him and the Democratic leadership for refusing to allow a vote on an alternative that ruled out any reduction in money for troops in the field.
“A vote in support of the troops that is silent on the question of funds is an attempt to have it both ways,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the GOP leader. “So we are asking for an honest and open debate.”
Update: It’s a moral victory, says Reid.
“Today, a bipartisan majority of the United States Senate voted against the President’s flawed plan to escalate the war. The Senate joined the House of Representatives, put itself on the record, and told the President that America needs a new direction in Iraq. As for the Republicans who chose once again to block further debate and protect President Bush, the American people now know they support the escalation.
“Today’s vote against the escalation is not the end of this Iraq debate in the Senate. This war is too important to permit Senate Republicans to brush it aside. The Bush Administration’s failures have put our troops and America in a deep hole, and it is time for this country and this Congress to climb out. The Republican Leadership can run from this debate, but they can’t hide. The Senate will keep fighting to force President Bush to change course.”
Update: Lindsey Graham on the prospect of a vote to defund:
“If you did have this vote, the left, the radical left, would eat every Democratic presidential hopeful alive.”
“The hard left wants out of this war yesterday,’’ Graham added. “And two-thirds of this body understands the hard left is dead wrong.”