The Senate GOP ran from the fight today, passing a resolution that John Kerry immediately branded evidence of crumbling support for the Iraq war, and which the Washington Post described this way:
The Senate-approved Iraq policy proposal calls for _ but does not require _ the Bush administration to “explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq” and to provide reports on U.S. foreign policy and military operations in Iraq every three months until all U.S. combat brigades have been withdrawn.
You can feel the ice breaking. For far too long, Republican leaders have refused to challenge the aimless Bush “stay as long as it takes” approach to Iraq. But now, their unwillingness to act has started to crumble.
Today in the Senate, facing a Democratic resolution on Iraq, the Republicans offered their own call for President Bush to come up with a plan. They didn’t go nearly far enough, but clearly our call for a concrete plan is gaining momentum.
I will devote most of today’s show to this fiasco, but the president is now on notice that his “allies” in the Senate are about as reliable as France.
The Senate signaled its growing unease with the war in Iraq today, voting overwhelmingly to demand regular reports from the White House on the course of the conflict and on the progress that Iraqi forces are making in securing their own country.
The vote, 79 to 19, came on an amendment to a spending bill that ultimately passed without opposition. The bipartisan support for the amendment sponsored by Senator John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican who heads the Armed Services Committee, reflected anxiety among Republicans as well as Democrats.
And Secretary Rumsfeld remarks on the call for “reports”:
On the matter of keeping Congress informed, the secretary said that the “Department of Defense and the Department of State send literally dozens of Iraqi-related reports to Congress each year already” and that the Pentagon alone sends Congress “I don’t know, it’s something over 900 reports total every year” on an array of subjects.
“I hope someone reads them,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.