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Obama, Durbin: Split on Iraq War vote

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Two Democrat proposals to remove troops from Iraq failed on Thursday, with the Illinois senators taking different approachs. The vote served to highlight that Democrats are not united around one strategy while the GOP gave President Bush a show of support.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) voted for a measure by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) to bring soldiers home by July 1, 2007. That failed on a 86-13 roll call, with the GOP senators all voting no.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Durbin backed a proposal by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that only asked Bush to design a plan for a military withdrawl by the end of the year. Republicans voted party line and this measure failed 60-39.

Obama ran in the heavily contested 2004 Illinois primary as the candidate who opposed the war in Iraq.

Click here for Durbin, Obama floor speechs.

Thursday Senate votes at www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/vote_menu_109_2.htm
*Kerry amendment: Durbin, yes; Obama, no.

*Levin amendment: Durbin, yes; Obama, yes.


*Kerry amendment. Thirteen yes votes altogether (12 Dems, plus Jeffords-I)

*All 13 (12 Dems, plus Jeffords) also said yes to Levin amendment.

*Here are the 13: Akaka, Boxer, Durbin, Feingold, Harkin, Inouye, Jeffords, Kennedy, Kerry, Lautenberg, Leahy, Menendez, Wyden.

Durbin floor speech..

MR. DURBIN: THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT.

MR. PRESIDENT, IN THE COURSE OF A CONGRESSIONAL CAREER, YOU'RE ASKED TO MAKE MANY VOTES. MOST OF THEM ARE FAIRLY ROUTINE AND NOT LONG-REMEMBERED.

BUT IN THE COURSE OF MY CAREER ON CAPITOL HILL, THOSE VOTES THAT HAVE KEPT ME UP AT NIGHT, THOSE VOTES WHICH I REMEMBER YEARS AFTER THEY'RE CAST RELATE TO ONE ISSUE: THE ISSUE OF WAR.

YOU KNOW THAT WHEN YOU HAVE CAST THAT VOTE, IF THE DECISION TO GO FORWARD HAS BEEN MADE, PEOPLE WILL DIE. NOT JUST THE ENEMY BUT BRAVE AMERICANS AND USUALLY INNOCENT CIVILIANS.

AND SO I REMEMBER VERY WELL THAT NIGHT IN OCTOBER IN 2002 WHEN WE WERE CALLED TO THE FLOOR -- THIS FLOOR -- OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE TO VOTE ON THE ISSUE OF AUTHORIZING THE PRESIDENT TO GO TO WAR IN IRAQ.

I'D SAY TO THE SENATOR FROM WEST VIRGINIA, I'LL NEVER FORGET THAT MOMENT. THERE WERE 23 OF US -- 22 ON THIS SIDE OF THE AISLE AND ONE ON THE OTHER, WHO STOOD UP AND VOTED NO.

AS THE SENATOR RECALLS, THAT VOTE ENDED LATE AT NIGHT, NEAR MIDNIGHT AND I STAYED ON THE FLOOR BECAUSE I KNEW I WOULDN'T I BE ABLE TO SLEEP WHEN I GOT HOME. AND THERE WERE TWO SENATORS THAT WERE HERE WAITING WITH THE SAME FEELINGS OF EMOTION.

ONE OF THEM WAS OUR LATE COLLEAGUE SENATOR PAUL WELLSTONE. SENATOR WELLSTONE WAS GOING BACK HOME TO MINNESOTA TO FACE REELECTION. I REMEMBER SAYING TO HIM, PAUL, I HOPE THIS DOESN'T COST YOU THE ELECTION.

AND YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID TO ME? "IT DOESN'T MATTER. THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE. THIS IS WHO I AM."

THAT WAS THE LAST CONVERSATION I EVER HAD WITH PAUL WELLSTONE. HE DIED IN A PLANE CRASH JUST A FEW DAYS LATER.

I THOUGHT ABOUT HIM EVER SINCE. I MISS HIM. I MISS HIS VOICE. I WISH HE WERE HERE TODAY.

IF HE WERE HERE TODAY, I KNOW WHAT HE WOULD BE DOING. HE WOULD BE JOINING ME AND SUPPORTING THE KERRY AMENDMENT.

I BELIEVE THAT IN THE MEANTIME HE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE VOTED AS I HAVE TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS.

I VOTED TO GIVE THIS PRESIDENT EVERY PENNY HE HAS ASKED FOR FOR THIS WAR. ONCE THAT DECISION TO GO FORWARD WAS MADE, MY YARDSTICK WAS VERY BASIC: IF IT WERE YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER IN UNIFORM IN IRAQ, WOULDN'T YOU GIVE THEM EVERYTHING THEY NEEDED TO WAGE THIS WAR AND COME HOME SAFELY?

IT WAS AN EASY QUESTION TO ASK AND ANSWER, PARTICULARLY IF YOU LIVED THROUGH THE DEBACLE OF VIETNAM, WHEN OUR POOR SOLDIERS BECAME THE VICTIMS OF PUBLIC CONTEMPT BECAUSE OF OUR DISPLEASURE WITH THE DECISIONS OF POLITICIANS. THAT MUST NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

AND SO NOW INTO THE FOURTH HE YEAR OF THIS STRUGGLE, I HAVE GIVEN THE PRESIDENT EVERY RESOURCE HE HAS ASKED FOR. I'VE STOOD BEHIND HIM AND THIS ADMINISTRATION, EVEN WHEN I DISAGREED WITH THEIR POLICY, BECAUSE I FELT IT WAS BEST THAT WE STAY UNIFIED.

TODAY I JOIN IN THE DECISION BEING MADE BY SEVERAL OF MY COLLEAGUES TO SAY THAT WE MUST MAKE IT CLEAR TO THE IRAQI PEOPLE THAT OUR COMMITMENT IS NOT FOREVER.

WHAT HAVE WE GIVEN THE IRAQIS? WE'VE GIVEN THEM 2,508 AMERICAN LIVES. WE'VE GIVEN THEM 18,000 SOLDIERS WHO'VE RETURNED HOME WITH INJURIES, 2,000 WITH HEAD INJURIES THAT MAY BE LIFE-CHANGING. WE HAVE GIVEN THEM $300 BILLION OF OUR TREASURE. WE HAVE GIVEN THEM A FOCUS OF OUR ATTENTION AND THE FOCUS OF OUR RESOURCES AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR OWN COUNTRY.

AND WHAT HAVE THEY RECEIVED IN RETURN? THEIR DICTATOR HAS BEEN DEPOSED. WE DUG HIM OUT OF A HOLE IN THE GROUND. WE PUT HIM ON TRIAL FOR MURDER OF HIS OWN PEOPLE. WE HAVE HELPED GIVE THE IRAQI PEOPLE THREE ELECTIONS AND TWO GOVERNMENTS. WE HAVE SAID TO THEM, CONTROL YOUR FUTURE AND YOUR FUTURE. THIS IS YOUR COUNTRY.

WE HAVE HELPED THEM TRAIN OVER 264,000 SOLDIERS AND POLICEMEN. WE HAVE INVESTED BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN THEIR INFRASTRUCTURE FOR OIL AND WATER. WE MAY HAVE GIVEN THIS NATION MORE THAN ANY OTHER NATION ON EARTH HAS EVER GIVEN ANOTHER.

BUT NOW WE MUST TELL THE IRAQIS SOMETHING VERY STRAIGHT AND VERY SIMPLE. IT IS TIME FOR THEM TO STAND AND DEFEND THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

IF THEY TRULY BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE OF IRAQ, IT IS TIME FOR THEM TO STAND TO RISK THEIR OWN LIVES AND THEIR BLOOD FOR THEIR OWN NATION.

THIS AMENDMENT BY SENATORS KERRY AND FEINGOLD AND OTHERS SAYS TO THEM THAT AT THE END OF THE YEAR, WE WILL CONSIDER THE WITHDRAWAL OF ALL OUR TROOPS.

NOW, I SAY THAT WITH SOME EQUIVOCATION BECAUSE IF YOU READ THE AMENDMENT, SENATOR KERRY AND SENATOR FEINGOLD HAVE BEEN CAREFUL. THEY UNDERSTAND THAT WE AREN'T GOING TO PULL EVERY TROOP OUT AS OF THE LAST DAY, REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES. THEY HAVE VERY CAREFULLY CRAFTED THE LANGUAGE WHICH SAYS IF WE FACE THE THREAT OF TERRORISM, IF WE ARE STILL NEEDED TO TRAIN THE TROOPS OR IF THERE IS ANY DANGER TO AMERICANS AND OR FACILITIES, WE CAN STAY AND DEFEND, AS WE SHOULD. IT IS NOT AN IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL ON THE LAST DAY. BUT IT SAYS TO THE IRAQIS, YOU MUST STAND AND FIGHT ON YOUR OW OWN.

I'VE BEEN TOLD OVER AND OVER AGAIN HOW WELL-TRAINED THESE IRAQI SOLDIERS ARE. THE PROOF OF THEIR FITNESS FOR BATTLE IS WHEN THE FIRST IRAQI SOLDIER REPLACES AN AMERICAN SOLDIER, SO THAT SOLDIER CAN COME HOME WITH HIS MISSION TRULY ACCOMPLISHED.

BUT IF WE LEAVE THIS OPEN-ENDED, AS THOSE ON THE OTHER SIDE WOULD SUGGEST, I AM AFRAID THE IRAQIS WILL UNDERSTAND THEY HAVE THE BEST MILITARY IN THE WORLD THAT WILL STAY THEIR INDEFINITELY. HOW CAN WE DO THAT TO OUR SOLDIERS WHO HAVE PERFORMED SO WELL, WHO HAVE BEEN THE MODEL OF BRAVERY, THE MODEL OF PATRIOTISM?

WE'VE BEEN MISLED INTO THIS WAR. WE WERE GIVEN INFORMATION BY THIS ADMINISTRATION THAT WAS NOT TRUE. THIS WAR HAS NOT BEEN WELL-MANAGED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION IN TERMS OF THE NUMBER OF TROOPS SENT IN THE FIELD OR THE EQUIPMENT BEING GIVEN TO THEM.

WE KNOW THAT. FOR YEARS WE'VE BEEN PROMISED THAT THESE IRAQIS WOULD STAND AND FIGHT AND WE COULD COME HOME AND THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED.

AND NOW I'VE REACHED THAT POINT. I'VE REACHED THAT POINT WHERE I BELIEVE THE IRAQIS MUST BE TOLD, NOW IT IS YOUR NATION. NOW IT IS YOUR TURN.

AND FOR THOSE WHO SAY THAT ONE YEAR IS NOT ENOUGH TIME, WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS IN IRAQ, IN THE LAST 12-MONTH PERIOD OF TIME?

WE'VE LOST 762 AMERICAN SOLDIERS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS. WE'VE SPENT $90 BILLION IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS. WE'VE SOON THOUSANDS OF OUR SOLDIERS RETURN HOME WITH INJURIES. IT ISN'T JUST THE PASSAGE OF TIME. ITS THE PASSAGE OF LIFE AND LIFE'S JOURNEY FOR SOME OF OUR SOLDIERS.

12 MONTHS IS A REASONABLE TIME. 12 MONTHS AND ALL THAT IT MEANS FOR US AND ALL THAT WE WOULD GIVE IS A REASONABLE TIME.

AND I SAY TO THE SENATORS FROM MASSACHUSETTS AND WISCONSIN, I THANK YOU FOR BRINGING THIS MEASURE BEFORE US.

I THINK IT IS AMPLE TIME FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO STAND UP AND SAY TO THIS ADMINISTRATION, YOU MISLED US INTO THIS WAR. YOU HAVE NO PLAN FOR IT TO END. OUR BRAVE SOLDIERS DESERVE THE LEADERSHIP THAT BRINGS THIS TO THE RIGHT CONCLUSION. I THINK WE CAN DO THAT. AND I THINK THIS AMENDMENT IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND I WILL SUPPORT IT. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

=======================
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Obama floor statement on the Iraq debate

June 21, 2006

Mr. President, in October of 2002, I delivered a speech opposing the War in Iraq.

I said that Saddam Hussein was a ruthless man, but that he posed no imminent and direct threat to the United States.

I said that a war in Iraq would take our focus away from our efforts to defeat al-Qaeda.

And, with a volatile mix of ethnic groups and a complicated history, I said that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

In short, I felt the decision unfolding then to invade Iraq was being made without a clear rationale, based more on ideology and politics than fact and reason.

It is with no great pleasure that I recall this now. Too many young men and women have died. Too many have been maimed. Too many hearts have been broken. I fervently wish I had been wrong about this war; that my concerns had been unfounded.

America and the American people have paid a high price for the decision to invade Iraq and myriad mistakes that followed. I believe that history will not judge the authors of this war kindly.

For all these reasons, I would like nothing more than to support the Kerry Amendment; to bring our brave troops home on a date certain, and spare the American people more pain, suffering and sorrow.

But having visited Iraq, I’m also acutely aware that a precipitous withdrawal of our troops, driven by Congressional edict rather than the realities on the ground, will not undo the mistakes made by this Administration. It could compound them.

It could compound them by plunging Iraq into an even deeper and, perhaps, irreparable crisis.

We must exit Iraq, but not in a way that leaves behind a security vacuum filled with terrorism, chaos, ethnic cleansing and genocide that could engulf large swaths of the Middle East and endanger America. We have both moral and national security reasons to manage our exit in a responsible way.

I share many of the goals set forth in the Kerry Amendment. We should send a clear message to the Iraqis that we won’t be there forever, and that by next year our primary role should be to conduct counter-insurgency actions, train Iraqi security forces, and provide needed logistical support.

Moreover, I share the frustration with an Administration whose policies with respect to Iraq seem to simply repeat the simple-minded refrains of "we know best" and "stay the course.��? It’s not acceptable to conduct a war where our goals and strategies drift aimlessly regardless of the cost in lives or dollars spent, and where we end up with arbitrary, poll-driven troop reductions by the Administration - the worst of all possible outcomes.

As one who strongly opposed the decision to go to war and who has met with servicemen and women injured in this conflict and seen the pain of the parents and loved ones of those who have died in Iraq, I would like nothing more than for our military involvement to end.

But I do not believe that setting a date certain for the total withdrawal of U.S. troops is the best approach to achieving, in a methodical and responsible way, the three basic goals that should drive our Iraq policy: that is, 1) stabilizing Iraq and giving the factions within Iraq the space they need to forge a political settlement; 2) containing and ultimately defeating the insurgency in Iraq; and 3) bringing our troops safely home.

What is needed is a blueprint for an expeditious yet responsible exit from Iraq. A hard and fast, arbitrary deadline for withdrawal offers our commanders in the field, and our diplomats in the region, insufficient flexibility to implement that strategy.

For example, let’s say that a phased withdrawal results in fifty thousand troops in Iraq by July 19, 2007. If, at that point, our generals and the Iraqi government tell us that having those troops in Iraq for an additional three or six months would enhance stability and security in the region, this amendment would potentially prevent us from pursuing the optimal policy.

It is for this reason that I cannot support the Kerry Amendment. Instead, I am a cosponsor of the Levin amendment, which gives us the best opportunity to find this balance between our need to begin a phase-down and our need to help stabilize Iraq. It tells the Iraqis that we won’t be there forever so that they need to move forward on uniting and securing their country. I agree with Senator Warner that the message should be "we really mean business, Iraqis, get on with it." At the same time, the amendment also provides the Iraqis the time and the opportunity to accomplish this critical goal.

Essential to a successful policy is the Administration listening to its generals and diplomats and members of Congress – especially those who disagree with their policies and believe it is time to start bringing our troops home.

The overwhelming majority of the Senate is already on record voting for an amendment stating that calendar year 2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security, creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq. The Levin Amendment builds on this approach.

The White House should follow this principle as well. Visiting Iraq for a few hours cannot resuscitate or justify a failed policy. No amount of spin or photo opportunities can change the bottom line: this war has been poorly conceived and poorly managed by the White House, and that is why it has been so poorly received by the American people..

And it’s troubling to already see Karl Rove in New Hampshire, treating this as a political attack opportunity instead of a major national challenge around which to rally the country.

There are no easy answers to this war. I understand that many Americans want to see our troops come home. The chaos, violence, and horrors in Iraq are gut-wrenching reminders of what our men and women in uniform, some just months out of high school, must confront on a daily basis. They are doing this heroically, they are doing this selflessly, and more than 2,500 of them have now made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Not one of us wants to see our servicemen and women in harm's way a day longer than they have to be. And that’s why we must find the most responsible way to bring them home as quickly as possible, while still leaving the foundation of a secure Iraq that will not endanger the free world.

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1 Comment

Durbin is a cowardly traitor, and Obama stands for nothing what do you expect.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 23, 2006 5:16 AM.

Dem Fem Sens, Together: Boxer, Cantwell, Clinton, Feinstein, Landrieu, Lincoln, Mikulski, Murray, Stabenow. was the previous entry in this blog.

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