WASHINGTON, June 15 — The Senate overwhelmingly rejected a call this afternoon for withdrawal of most American combat troops from Iraq by the end of the year as debates in both houses of Congress mixed high emotion with calculated maneuvering.In the House, an emotional debate on a Republican-sponsored resolution that backs the administration’s war effort began at midday today and continued into the evening. A vote is expected on Friday.
Today’s 93-to-6 Senate vote came after a maneuver by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the second-ranking Republican, who introduced a measure that he said was taken from a proposal by Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, calling for President Bush to agree with the new Iraqi government on a timetable to withdraw most troops by Dec. 31.
Mr. Kerry has not yet offered his own measure because, he said, language is still being worked out. He and other Democrats accused Republicans of gamesmanship by engineering a surprise vote today, according to The Associated Press, and said they would push for an authentic debate next week. The vote was to table a proposal that only those forces essential to completing the mission of “standing up” the Iraqi security forces remain in the country in 2007, and it reflected a deep reluctance in both parties to commit to a firm withdrawal schedule.
The six “no” votes were cast by Senators Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy, also of Massachusetts; Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer of California, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, all Democrats.
That “authentic debate” on the Iraq war in the Senate next week should be very entertaining. Keep the popcorn handy.