Senate 'Slumber Party' Fails
Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled a Democratic proposal ordering troop withdrawals from Iraq in a showdown that capped an all-night debate on the war.
The 52-47 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate under Senate rules. It was a sound defeat for Democrats who say the U.S. military campaign, in its fifth year and requiring 158,000 troops, cannot tame the sectarian violence in Iraq.
Republicans were mostly unified in their opposition to sidetrack the legislation, with four exceptions. Three Republicans - Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska - announced previously they support setting a deadline on the war.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is up for re-election next year, also voted to advance the bill. Spokesman Kevin Kelley said Collins believes the measure should be subject to a simple majority vote and not the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster. Kelley said the senator still opposes the legislation.
Other GOP members, while uneasy about the war, said they could not support legislation that would force Bush to adhere to a firm pullout date.
"The amendment tells our enemies when they can take over in Iraq," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who is up for re-election next year. The bill "is the wrong approach at the wrong time," he added.
Among lawmakers scheduled to meet with Rice were Biden, Smith, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., and House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio.
The vote came after a rare, round-the-clock session Democrats used to highlight Republican support for Bush's Iraq strategy. Republicans said the all-nighter was a useless political stunt.