This vote was on an amendment by Russell Feingold, D-Wis., that would require most troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by June 30, 2008, with some exceptions. The exceptions include providing security for U.S. civilian personnel, training Iraqi security forces and “conducting limited targeted operations” against Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations. Feingold’s amendment was offered to the bill that funds the Defense Department for fiscal 2008.
Feingold said his amendment does not deny funding for troops’ welfare, for armor or weaponry. It simply requires the Defense Department to remove troops from Iraq and deploy them elsewhere, either at home or other fronts such as in Afghanistan. The amendment is similar to one Feingold offered earlier during debate on this bill; it was defeated.
“Some of my colleagues will oppose this amendment. That is their right. But I hope they will not do so on the grounds that we should keep the Defense appropriations bill clean, or that a brief debate and vote on this amendment will somehow delay that bill. Passing a defense spending bill without even discussing the most important national defense and national security issue facing our country is simply irresponsible. As long as our troops are fighting and dying for a war that doesn’t make sense, as long as the American people are calling out for an end to this tragedy, as long as the administration and its supporters press ahead with their misguided strategy, we have a responsibility to debate and vote on this issue again and again and again,” Feingold said.
Thad Cochran, R-Miss., argued against Feingold’s amendment, suggesting it would hold up consideration of an important bill that troops in the field need to continue their operations.
“The new fiscal year has already begun. We should not cause uncertainty or hardship for our Armed Forces or try to change American policy in Iraq by starving our troops of needed resources. Let’s get on with it and provide our men and women in uniform the resources they need to perform that mission successfully,” Cochran said.
The Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 28-68. Every Republican present voted against the amendment. Of Democrats present, 27 voted for the amendment (including the most progressive senators), and 21 voted against it. Thus, the measure went forward without language that would have required troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of June 2008.