Senate Rejects Mandated ‘Dwell Time’ for Troops

Sep 19, 2007 2:03pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Republican Senators were able to hold their line yet again and defeated an amendment to the Defense policy bill that would have mandated the President give equal time stationed at home as deployed to troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The vote on the "dwell time" amendment was thought to have been Democrats best chance to pass any sort of binding policy constrictions on the Bush administration as it prepares to slowly wind down its surge policy, but makes plans to remain in Iraq through 2008 and beyond.

"Put yourself in the mind of a soldier who has just finished a 15 month deployment in Iraq," Webb said to Senators in a floor speech. He said the Senate owed it to the troops serving in Iraq to mandate them time away from the war zone, with their families.

Senators will now vote on a non-binding Republican alternative to the Webb-Hagel amendment offered by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Democrats did pick up support from Sen. Tim Johnson, the South Dakota Democrat who was recovering from brain injury during past votes but lost the important support of Virginia Republican John Warner, who had supported a similar measure just two months ago.

Democrats tried till the last minute to gain more Republican support, but ultimately fell short.

"Just because some Republicans are choosing obstruction doesn’t mean all Republicans should follow in lock step," admonished Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just before the vote.

In speech on the Senate floor, Warner said his mind was changed on the vote because there have been some military strides made by the surge and several Generals from the pentagon made an impassioned plea to him today about how the measure would tie their hands in prosecuting the war.

Webb had tried to address these concerns by adding waivers on the mandated dwell time for national emergency into the language of the bill.

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