What: All Issues : War & Peace : HR 1495. (Water Resources Development Act reauthorization) Motion to limit debate on an amendment by Feingold of Wisconsin requiring troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by March 31, 2008/On the motion (2007 senate Roll Call 167)
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HR 1495. (Water Resources Development Act reauthorization) Motion to limit debate on an amendment by Feingold of Wisconsin requiring troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by March 31, 2008/On the motion
senate Roll Call 167     May 16, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

The motion to limit debate was made on an amendment offered by Russell Feingold, D-Wis. Feingold's amendment would require President Bush to start withdrawing troops from Iraq within 120 days of the bill's enactment, with the redeployment to be completed by March 31, 2008, with a few exceptions. Troops could be used for "protecting U.S. infrastructure and personnel; training and equipping Iraqi security forces; and targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al-Qaida and other international terrorist organizations."

Democrats have maintained that American troops have fulfilled their duties and that to remain longer in Iraq would mean more lives lost for little gain. They also say that in pushing for withdrawing troops from Iraq, they are honoring a mandate given to them by the American people during the last election, when Democrats took both the House and Senate from an entrenched Republican majority. Republicans, on the other hand, have argued that this would result in a precipitous withdrawal of troops that would create a vacuum in Iraq that would be filled by terrorist organizations. They say this would destabilize the entire Middle East and put America at risk for more terrorist attacks on its soil.

This vote occurred on an attempt to bring debate on an amendment to a close (known as a "cloture motion" in the Senate). If the Senate votes to "invoke cloture" – or bring debate to a close – then lawmakers must either hold a vote on the legislation or amendment in question, or move on to other business. This type of motion is most often called on contentious bills or amendments where the leadership is concerned that the legislation could be held up indefinitely by a handful of unhappy politicians.

The amendment was offered to an unrelated bill that would authorize billions of dollars in water infrastructure projects. The debate over whether or not to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq took up a significant portion of the Senate's time on this unrelated measure, in part necessitating the cloture vote.

"Some have suggested that cutting off funds for the war could mean cutting off funds for the troops. They would have people believe that, under my approach, our brave troops will be left to fend for themselves in Iraq, without training, equipment, or resources," Feingold said. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Using our power of the purse to end our involvement in the war would in no way endanger our brave service members."

Virginia Republican John Warner offered a counterproposal to Feingold's that would direct Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq if the Iraqi government formally passed a resolution calling for them to be removed.

Arguing for Warner's amendment, Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she did not want to cut off funding for the troops, but that she did want to see some benchmarks set. " None of us wants to—or very few of us want to cut off the essential training and equipping funds for Iraqi troops, much less American troops. So I do not support an alternative amendment which will be offered today which would simply cut off funds. I don't think that is responsible," Collins said. "  I also want to make sure the Iraqi troops have the training and the equipment they need, but I share the frustration of the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee that we have been training Iraqi troops and equipping them for years, some 300,000 troops, and yet we still find that the Iraqi security forces are not able to take the lead in very many operations, and that is very disturbing to me."

The Senate voted 29-67 not to limit debate on the amendment. Republicans were unanimous in voting not to limit debate on the amendment. A majority of Democrats, including most Progressives, voted to bring debate to a close on the amendment, but a significant number – 19 – did not, representing a split in opinions about how to handle the Iraq war. All but one of the most progressive members of the Senate, jack Reed of Rhode Island, voted to limit debate on the measure. Thus, cloture was not invoked on Feingold's amendment to set a March 31, 2008 date for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, allowing debate to continue. The amendment was later withdrawn. (Warner's amendment was also later withdrawn.)

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