Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote This Afternoon

After a torturous struggle in the House, the fight over the Iraq supplemental has now moved to the Senate. Compared to the struggle in the house, the Senate is moving quickly, and the first major vote on the supplemental will take place in the late afternoon, today. McConnell has signaled that he will not filibuster the bill, as Republicans who rubber-stamped and blank-checked the war all seek to unload Iraq on Bush. However, that does not mean that Democrats have cleared all hurdles in the Senate, and are ready for a showdown with bush. Far from it.

The vote this afternoon is on an amendment to the supplemental that seeks to strip all language regarding timetables and withdrawal from the supplemental. In order to defeat this amendment, and assuming that Gordon Smith and Ben Nelson are on board (which are not terrible assumptions, but are assumptions none the less), right now Democrats need one more vote. The primary targets to acquire this vote are Chuck Hagel, Mark Pryor, and John Warner. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that in the next few hours, those three people will decide whether or not Bush receives a blank check to continue his war indefinitely, or not. All three are up for re-election in 2008.

If this amendment passes, there will still be other amendments in the coming days, and there will also be a conference bill where Pelosi can try and strengthen what the senate eventually passes. Also, even if the already compromised House version of the bill ends up becoming still weaker, progressives will have the opportunity to defeat the conference report on the supplemental down the road. However, make no mistake: if we lose this vote, either a total blank check, or something very close to it, will pass the Senate, which puts us in real danger of a total blank check, or something very close it, arriving on Bush's desk even without a veto showdown.

This is dangerous territory for Democrats. No matter how many good opportunities we have in 2008, a defeat like this could prevent us from nationalizing the 2008 elections. While individual Democrats will still be able to argue that individual Republicans continue to support an extremely unpopular and destructive war, unless Democrats refuse to allow Bush to get away with a blank check, we won't be able to campaign like that as an entire party. If we lose this vote, and if the Senate leadership buckles as a result, the nightmare scenario on the Iraq supplemental begins to become a real possibility (not to mention a sizable left-wing abandonment of activism on behalf of Democrats in the 2008 elections). On the other hand, if we win this vote, and as a result we are able to send a solid conference report to Bush, then Democrats will have begun the process of going to the mat and we can prepare for a huge showdown as a united party.

There is still a lot left to fight over on the Iraq supplemental. While it is too late to try and whip Hagel, Pryor and Warner via telephone calls, I hope they, and the Senate Democratic leadership, know what is at stake. Caving, and giving Bush a blank check, would be a disaster on many, many levels. This vote is a major lynchpin in determining whether or not that happens, and we will know the results in just a few hours.

Tags: House 2008, Iraq, Iraq supplemental, Senate 2008 (all tags)

Comments

27 Comments

Is Senator Johnson available?

by magster 2007-03-27 10:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Senator Johnson available?
I believe it doesn't matter. If we are down 50-49, then Cheney casts the tiebreaker. If we are up 50-49, then we win.
by Chris Bowers 2007-03-27 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Senator Johnson available?
that is, if we are down 50-49, Cheney casts the tiebreaker even if we bring up Johnson, and we win 50-49 even if we don't.
by Chris Bowers 2007-03-27 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Senator Johnson available?

You're right as long as certain GOP presidential contenders aren't out fundraising during an important vote (or everyone else is there in DC today).

by magster 2007-03-27 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Senator Johnson available?

No, the Johnson has not been to the Senate floor (or Washington, I believe) and is still recovering.

by remove 2007-03-27 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Senator Johnson available?

Oops. What an awkward typo- "the johnson"...

by remove 2007-03-27 11:18AM | 0 recs
How about Susan Collins?

I just called and the woman on the phone said (before I offered my considered opinion), "I know Senator Collins is against the surge, but I'm not sure how she's going to vote on this."

by BingoL 2007-03-27 10:42AM | 0 recs
What's Pryor's Problem?

I know the guy is relatively conservative, but does he reallly think opposing the Bush administration's approach to this failed war will make him vulnerable in 2008?  Maybe I'm wrong, but is Iraq somehow a GOOD issue for republicans in Arkansas?  

Really, I'm not sure what good Pryor is to the Democratic party if he doesn't show up on the right side of a vote like this.  I'm all for a big tent -- and I certainly understand Arkansas isn't Rhode Island -- but it's not Nebraska either.  Hasn't there been a rumor out there about Pryor facing a primary challenge?  Anyone know anything about that?

by HSTruman 2007-03-27 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: What's Pryor's Problem?

Really, I'm not sure what good Pryor is to the Democratic party if he doesn't show up on the right side of a vote like this.

There's no way we'd even be getting to introduce this bill if Pryor hadn't voted for Reid as Majority Leader.

Pryor is far, far more valuable to us overall than any Republican would be.

by Steve M 2007-03-27 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: What's Pryor's Problem?

That's sort of a low bar you're setting for Pryor, isn't it?  Arkansas isn't Nebraska and we're not talking about an issue that would hurt Pryor at all.  I'm all for a big tent, and therefore don't mind that Pryor is going to vote as a social conservative.  But if he's wrong on the war too, I have serious questions regarding his utility.  Ideally, the threat of a primary challenge might atleast make him tack back towards the center a bit.  Really, that's all I want.

by HSTruman 2007-03-27 05:11PM | 0 recs
Don't sweat it - yet

However, make no mistake: if we lose this vote, either a total blank check, or something very close to it, will pass the Senate, which puts us in real danger of a total blank check, or something very close it, arriving on Bush's desk even without a veto showdown.

Agree the first part, disagree the second.

If the amendment to strike passes, then (unless there's something that I'm unaware of, which is quite possible) the bill will pass the Senate without the stricken text.

But, like you said, there will be a conference, and (again, assuming there's nothing that I'm not foreseeing) a withdrawal text will be reinserted.

For the purposes of the GOP v Dem contest, it doesn't matter what text. (Pretty much.) Any text that ties Bush's hands, even with ties of cotton candy, he will deem an affront and cause to veto or signing-statement the bill away.

The House Dems had their opportunity to check into Bellevue en masse when passage of the bill there was in doubt. For whatever reasons, they resisted the temptation.

And,

if the Senate leadership buckles as a result,

(of losing the vote on the Cochran Amendment - the amendment to strike), that would be a similar admission of lunacy. (Or, at least, of being a pushover.)

Even McConnell has mapped out the route to the Congress v WH confrontation, via a conference report that he assumes will contain a provision noxious to Bush.

That was always (for a good while, at least) been the most likely end-game, and, presumably, the WH and House GOP have planned accordingly.

As you say, there will be other amendments - Cochran's is the only one to make it to THOMAS so far - and other bear traps for the Dems, possibly.

But these are only appetisers before the main course, which is the (pretty much inevitable) Congress v WH fight over a supplemental bill including some kind of timetable or other provision that Bush decides he cannot stomach.

At that point, cojones get to be weighed in the balance; most likely, not before.

(The whole area of what Bush could do if the supplemental bill is not to his taste needs looking at; if Bush can get the money somehow (by DOD reprogramming, say) he can hang tough. If not, what happens?

Appropriations is (so far as I'm aware - judging from the length of the GAO manuals on the subject (which I've not read!)) an immensely technical topic. I'm not sure who, outside the government, has expertise in it.

But it might turn out to be pretty important.)

by skeptic06 2007-03-27 11:35AM | 0 recs
Why no Progressive revolt in the Senate?

While I think about it -

Brer Feingold, for instance, has been known to plough his own furrow when he thought necessary, despite the intense annoyance of his colleagues - with his Bush censure resolution, for instance.

However, I've not noticed any suggestion that Feingold will be straying an inch outside the reservation on the supplemental bill.

In fact, there seems to have a total absence amongst lefty senators of the sort of angsting that troubled their House comrades.

Which, assuming my impression is correct, I find slightly puzzling.

by skeptic06 2007-03-27 11:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Why no Progressive revolt in the Senate?

I imagine that Feingold will not vote for the supplemental if the withdrawal language is taken out this afternoon.

by magster 2007-03-27 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote Thi

Hagel's speech sounds like he's going against the amendment.

by dopplex 2007-03-27 12:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote Thi

Where is the best place to follow the Senate discussion and vote?

by aip 2007-03-27 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote Thi

http://www.c-span.org/watch/cs_cspan2_rm .asp?Cat=TV&Code=CS2 has a live video feed of the Senate.

by dopplex 2007-03-27 12:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote Thi

http://www.c-span.org/watch/cs_cspan2_wm .asp?Cat=TV&Code=CS2

by magster 2007-03-27 12:28PM | 0 recs
That's what I thought n/t

n/t

by skeptic06 2007-03-27 12:29PM | 0 recs
Vote at 5pm ET...

according to CQ piece.

by skeptic06 2007-03-27 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote Thi

Warner is almost certainly voting for the amendment (based on his speech).  Hagel seems like he is voting against.

How many Republicans do we need voting against it to strike the amendment down?

by dopplex 2007-03-27 12:43PM | 0 recs
Vote

Hagel, Nelson and Smith voted nay.  Pryor and Warner voted aye.  I didn't hear anyone else vote across party lines.  I think the amendment will fail.

by you like it 2007-03-27 01:27PM | 0 recs
Indeed it failed n/t

n/t

by you like it 2007-03-27 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Vote
Fucking Pryor. At least it looks like we are going to win this one.
by Chris Bowers 2007-03-27 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Vote

He's holding up a red flag: "I need a primary challenger!"

by aip 2007-03-27 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote Thi

Yays 48
Nays 50

Amendment doesn't go through.

by dopplex 2007-03-27 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote Thi
Roll call up yet?
by Chris Bowers 2007-03-27 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Iraq Supplemental Update: Huge Senate Vote Thi

Not that I'm aware of.  That was the tally that was just announced in the Senate.

by dopplex 2007-03-27 01:32PM | 0 recs

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