Senate Preps for Fuller Debate of Iraq Troop Buildup
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Joining us now is NPR's David Welna, who has been covering the Iraq resolutions. And David, what's so significant about these two anti-troop surge resolutions being merged into one other than that obviously it would seem to make for a stronger resolution?
DAVID WELNA: These co-sponsors wanted to meld theirs with another resolution sponsored by Republican Senator Warner, but Warner had refused to do so until last night. And I think he changed his mind because he realized that he didn't have quite enough votes to beat a filibuster either.
MONTAGNE: Did one of the two resolutions actually prevail in this situation?
WELNA: And then to attract more disaffected Republicans, they added an assurance that funds for troops on the ground in the Iraq would in no way be affected by this resolution.
MONTAGNE: Now, allies of President Bush in the Senate had been hoping to offer an alternative resolution that would keep Republicans from voting against the president. Is that still on track?
WELNA: Well, I think we'll see a resolution backed by Republican John McCain and independent Joe Lieberman that sets benchmarks for the Iraqis to meet. They're hoping Republicans who are worried about opposition to the war back home can vote for this as a way of asserting oversight of the troop surge. But of course all these resolutions are nonbinding and it's not clear whether this option will be compelling enough to prevent more Republicans from defecting and backing the anti-surge resolution.
MONTAGNE: And David, just very quickly, when does the debate get underway?
WELNA: Well, the debate is supposed to get started next Monday and it may start out with a key test vote to see if this new combined resolution has actually attracted at least 60 supporters. And it will then be subject to amendments. And some Republicans are talking about proposing an amendment that would call for an immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq, and they figure that would put a lot of Democrats in a tough position, since many of them are nervous about being seen as undermining the troops. But I think more than anything, we're going to have the most far-reaching and probably gut-wrenching debate on this war we've heard yet.
MONTAGNE: Thank you, David.
WELNA: You're welcome, Renee.
MONTAGNE: NPR's David Welna.
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