The Senate took up several Iraq votes this week, but was unable to pass anything that would change US strategy in Iraq. The first attempt was on the Webb amendment I mentioned earlier in the week, which would have required that soldiers spend as much time at home as they spend deployed in Iraq. An aggressive lobbying effort by the Pentagon prevented the Republican defections necessary for it to pass:
Ham and a second three-star general met for an hour Wednesday in a Senate building with five GOP senators, including ones who had been considering supporting Webb’s measure. The two commanders forcefully outlined their case that the measure would mean longer deployments for some troops and a planning nightmare for the military.
Within hours, the generals were being cited in speeches on the Senate floor by senior Republicans including Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, who had backed Webb’s amendment in July, and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, whom Democrats were hoping would join them.
Later this week, the Senate voted on two withdrawal amendments, one sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and one by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). Both of these amendments had been offered in July, and remarkably, they both fared worse this time around. Many people are explaining this change by the glimmer of hope they saw in General Petraeus’ testimony. Recent polls show a plurality of the American public support the minimal withdrawal that Petraeus presented last week.
While these votes are important, our most critical opportunity to change strategy in Iraq will be the funding for fiscal year 2008, which will be voted on in October or November. You can still sign our pledge stating that you will withhold your vote in 2008 for any member of Congress who votes to continue funding the war without a timeline for withdrawal of US troops.