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During the November 16 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, while discussing the Senate Democrats' failure to get the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster on a bill that would have provided $50 billion for the Iraq war while requiring President Bush to begin redeploying troops, CNN commentator Jack Cafferty described "the 53-45 vote" as "seven votes shy of what they needed for the measure to advance." Similarly, in a November 17 Washington Post article, staff writer Shailagh Murray reported, "The 53 to 45 vote in favor of the bill fell seven short of the 60 votes needed and signaled that the contours of the war debate, now nearing its first anniversary, have barely changed." Neither Cafferty nor Murray pointed out that the reason the Democrats -- despite having attained a majority of votes -- failed to advance the bill was that the Republicans forced a cloture vote, for which a 60-vote supermajority is required to overcome a filibuster. A July 20 McClatchy Newspapers article documented the Senate Republicans' repeated use of the filibuster to block legislation since they lost the majority in the Senate.
Furthermore, as Media Matters for America noted, in an April 18 article, Roll Call quoted Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-MS) acknowledging the GOP's "obstructionist" strategy. He said, "The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail ... For [former Senate Democratic Leader Tom] Daschle (S.D.), it failed. For [then-Senate Minority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV], it succeeded, and so far it's working for us."
From the November 16 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
CAFFERTY: Democrats tried to tie more money for the Iraq war to troop withdrawal, but they failed -- again. The Senate blocked a Democratic proposal today that passed the House yesterday, the 53-45 vote seven votes shy of what they needed for the measure to advance. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the only way to get the money was to include restrictions that would have required troops to begin coming home as early as 30 days from now.
But Republicans say the Democrats are being irresponsible. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the Democrats for an inability to accomplish anything in the Senate. Earlier this week, Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if Congress cannot pass legislation that ties war money to troop withdrawals, then they won't send the president any bill this year. Instead, they will revisit the issue in January.
Democrats say in the meantime, the Pentagon can use part of its $470 billion budget to keep paying for the war.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says unless Congress passes war funding without conditions, it could mean the Army would have to shut down bases in this country by mid-February and lay off up to 100,000 civilian employees and contractors.
So our question is this: Should Congress hold off sending President Bush any more bills funding the war in Iraq until next year?
From Murray's November 17 Washington Post article:
Senate Republicans yesterday blocked Democrats' latest effort to end the Iraq war, rejecting a $50 billion military funding package that would have required President Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. troops.
The 53 to 45 vote in favor of the bill fell seven short of the 60 votes needed and signaled that the contours of the war debate, now nearing its first anniversary, have barely changed. An alternative GOP proposal, which would have provided $70 billion with no strings attached, was rejected outright, 53 to 45.