An April 26 Roll Call article (subscription only) on the Iraq war debate uncritically quoted Vice President Dick Cheney's false claim, made on the April 15 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "has said he's adamantly opposed to any funding for the troops." In fact, as Media Matters for America noted, Reid voted for the emergency supplemental funding bill that the Senate passed on March 29 and voted for the conference report on the bill, which the Senate passed during the afternoon of April 26. The conference report -- a reconciliation of House and Senate bills -- provides $124 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and requires that the Pentagon begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by October 2007, with the goal of having most U.S. forces redeployed six months later.
On April 2, Reid co-sponsored a bill offered by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) that would end funding for the Iraq war in March 2008 and announced his intention to bring the bill before the Senate if President Bush vetoes the supplemental funding bill, which Bush has vowed to do as long as it contains a timetable for withdrawal. In a statement, Reid explained: "If the President vetoes the supplemental appropriations bill and continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period." Since announcing his proposal, Reid has stated that "Democrats are determined to make sure the troops have the funds they need" and noted that "[i]f the President vetoes this bill he will have delayed funding for troops."
From the April 26 Roll Call article:
Indeed, Republicans have been using [Sen. Carl] Levin's [D-MI] statements over the past month as evidence, they say, that Democrats are not only split on what to do about the war but also engaged in pointless political theater that is delaying funding for troops in the field.
"Harry Reid has said he's adamantly opposed to any funding for the troops," said Vice President Cheney on CBS' "Face the Nation" on April 16. [sic] "On the other hand, Carl Levin ... has indicated that they definitely do want to pass funding for the troops, even if they don't have the votes to override the president's veto."
One Senate GOP leadership aide said Levin has made it easy for Republicans to "exploit" his remarks "because it's so obvious" that he disagrees with Reid. But the aide added that Levin tends to strike a tone that probably helps soften the Democrats' rhetoric on the war.
"I think you've got Reid speaking to the far left and Levin speaking to the rest of America," the GOP aide said.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) agreed.
"Notwithstanding that I disagree with him on some of the tactics [regarding the supplemental], he's shown a lot of responsibility in his temperate language, unlike the Majority Leader," he said.