To the extent that anything about the anti-war resolutions that have swirled around Congress over the last several weeks is big news, this is: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided to abandon his support for the Warner/Levin anti-surge resolution, and instead try to pass the much simpler House resolution in the Senate:
“It’s so much more simple: We support the troops, we oppose the surge. Perfect,” Reid told reporters after a weekly luncheon with his Democratic caucus.
This is good news, I think, because it will let Republicans who had committed to supporting Warner/Levin off the hook. Contrary to Reid’s suggestion, the two resolutions are very different. Several Republicans worked hard to make Warner/Levin more acceptable. In particular, I believe Norm Coleman was instrumental in getting this paragraph added to the resolution:
(4) the Congress should not take any action that will endanger United States military forces in the field, including the elimination or reduction of funds for troops in the field, as such an action with respect to funding would undermine their safety or harm their effectiveness in pursuing their assigned missions;
It was that paragraph that convinved Coleman and a few other Republicans that the resolution, taken as a whole, was sufficiently balanced to be worthy of support. The House resolution contains no similar opposition to funding cuts for the troops, and in fact, it seems clear that House Democrats intend to try to reduce or cut off funding for the war effort. My guess is that Coleman and fellow Republicans like Susan Collins will vote against the House resolution, which contains neither an assurance of future funding nor an acknowledgement of the consequences of failure in Iraq.
PAUL adds: But unless the surge ultimately is viewed as a success, Reid still wins if he get Coleman, Collins, and other Republicans on record as refusing to vote for a resolution opposing it. Coleman, Collins, et. al can mitigate the political damage, and express what I believe is their genuine opposition to the surge, by voting for Levin/Warner or something like it. (I’m assuming that the Republicans sustain their ability to condition a vote on any resolution on consideration of multiple resolutions). Doesn’t Hugh Hewitt’s pledge only kick-in if anti-surge resolution that Repubs vote for passes? Without the support of Reid and other Dems, Levin/Warner won’t pass.
JOHN responds: Paul is right, as usual. I’m assuming that the Democrats will have a united front here, which means there is no more “Warner/Levin.” Of course, Warner could still introduce the resolution if the Republicans win the right to offer alternatives. My hope would be that Warner/Levin quietly dies. Republicans like Coleman and Collins are already on record as opposing the surge, and they’re welcome to say they supported Warner/Levin. But it will help them and other Republicans with the base if they are not called on to actually vote for it. Or, if worse comes to worst, they’ll still be much better off if they aren’t voting with the Democrats.
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