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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ: DEBATE IN WASHINGTON

Democrats lose again on war bill

September 22, 2007|Johanna Neuman | Times Staff Writer

washington -- Capping a week of frustrating losses for critics of the war in Iraq, Senate Democrats fell 13 votes short Friday on a bill to order most U.S. troops home in nine months.

The measure, by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), fell on a 47-47 vote, the latest defeat for Democratic-led proposals; it needed 60 votes to advance. On Thursday, a proposal to cut off funding by June garnered only 28 votes. And on Wednesday, a proposal to require more leave time between deployments came up four votes short, 56 to 44.

Supporters of the war heralded the week's developments. They see them as a sign that a recent report card from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, citing an improved security situation in Iraq, bolstered support among Republicans and bought military commanders some time.

"It would be a very overt rejection of Gen. Petraeus' leadership" if the Senate ordered troops withdrawn, said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

On Friday, three Republicans -- Sens. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska -- voted with 44 Democrats for the Levin proposal. Voting with 43 Republicans to block the measure were Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) along with Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut. Nelson and Pryor said they were reluctant to second-guess military commanders on a date for withdrawal. Dodd, a presidential candidate, has said he favors a complete defunding of the war.

Most Democrats joined with Republicans on Thursday for a resolution condemning an ad in the New York Times by the antiwar group MoveOn.org that referred to Petraeus as "General Betray Us." The Senate vote was 72 to 25.

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johanna.neuman@latimes.com

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