Momentum continues to build for President George W. Bush’s worst nightmare: A broad, bi-partisan Senate resolution opposing his troop buildup in Iraq.
Democrats, however, backed off language which proclaimed Bush’s troop surge is against the national interest while the sponsor of a GOP resolution agreed to drop wording that showed some support for the increase.
Reports Shailegh Murray and Jonathan Weisman of The Washington Post:
Democratic and Republican opponents of President Bush’s troop-buildup plan joined forces last night behind the nonbinding resolution with the broadest bipartisan backing: a Republican measure from Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced the shift, hoping to unite a large majority of the Senate and thwart efforts by the White House and GOP leaders to derail any congressional resolution of disapproval of Bush’s decision to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq by 21,500.
Although the original Democratic language was popular within the party, it had little appeal among Republicans. Warner’s proposal drew support from both sides, and it was retooled last night to maximize both Democratic and Republican votes.
The revised resolution would express the Senate’s opposition to the troop increase but would vow to protect funding for the troops. The resolution does not include the Democratic language saying the Bush plan is against the national interest, but it also drops an earlier provision by Warner suggesting Senate support for some additional troops.
“It’s been a hard work in progress,” Warner said of the revised resolution, which will require the support of at least 60 senators to prevent a filibuster.
After reviewing the Warner revisions, Reid decided the new text would take the place of the original resolution, by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). He said the Senate will begin debating the resolution next week, provided Democrats and Republicans can agree on a way to overcome some procedural hurdles.
For Warner, the resolution puts him at odds with some of his fellow Republicans.
Writes Carl Hulse in The New York Times:
Senator John W. Warner, a lawmaker often admired for his demeanor and experience, has long wielded influence on military policy given his own years at the Pentagon and his tenure as the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
So when the Virginian, a senator from central casting who turns 80 next month, offered a bipartisan resolution opposing President BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s troop buildup in Iraq in more muted terms than one broadly backed by Democrats, people took notice. He appeared to have provided a center of gravity for lawmakers anxious about the war yet unwilling to challenge the White House too harshly.
But while Mr. Warner has won some support from within his party, he has also attracted unusually tough criticism from fellow Republicans who have suggested that he Ã¢â‚¬â€ a World War II veteran and former Navy secretary Ã¢â‚¬â€ is undercutting Mr. Bush, the new military command being installed in Iraq and the troops themselves.
It is a time of transition for Mr. Warner in the Senate. Not only are Republicans now in the minority, but he also lost the top Republican slot on the Armed Services Committee to John McCain of Arizona because of term limits and was not successful in efforts to win the top party seat on another panel. In addition, his fellow Republican, George Allen, lost his reelection bid in Virginia to a Democrat, Senator Jim Webb.
So while Mr. Warner fights to stay relevant in the Iraq debate, he has fewer tools at his disposal even as he considers whether to run for re-election next year.
What some Republicans have said in recent days about Mr. Warner has been particularly harsh.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is clearly not an act of leadership,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who joined two of his colleagues Wednesday in dismissing Mr. WarnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposal as they sought to hold off a Senate repudiation of the presidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s plan.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“To offer nonbinding resolutions which encourage our enemies and undermine our allies and deflate the morale of our troops is, to me, the worst of all possible worlds,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.