Not Much Separates Anti-Surge Resolutions --Just Republican Votes
Jan. 25, 2007 — -- A resolution that would register deep disapproval of President Bush's plan to surge troops into Iraq cleared a hurdle in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Wednesday. But it did not gain as much support from Republicans as expected, even though most Republicans on the committee were less than enthusiastic about Bush's new strategy.
This is the United States Senate, after all. Words count here. And so do impressions.
The resolution that passed through the committee says any escalation in Iraq is "against the national interest." It passed 12 to 9 out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with unanimous Democratic support, but the resolution's author, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., was the only Republican to support it in the committee vote.
"I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this," Hagel said at the hearing. "What do you believe? What are you willing to support? What do you think? Why are you elected? If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes. This is a tough business. But is it any tougher for us having to take a tough vote and express ourselves and have the courage to step up, than what we're asking our young men and women do? I don't think so."
Strong words like that, though coming from a Republican like Hagel, may be what eventually scuttle his resolution. Many Republicans seem to be against the surge. But only Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has signed on with Hagel.
The poor showing among Foreign Relations Committee Republicans indicates that another resolution, officially introduced on the Senate floor late Wednesday afternoon, and described as less caustic and partisan by Republicans, may be a viable alternative to the Hagel resolution.
The biggest difference is that Hagel's resolution calls any increase in troop levels "not in the national interest." The alternative resolution is a bit more deferential to the White House by simply saying that the Senate "disagrees" with the surge.
But that less critical resolution, authored by Republicans John Warner, R-Va., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Democrat Ben Nelson, D-Neb., is very similar to the Hagel resolution. Both call for Iraqi politicians to make "political compromises." Both list maintaining Iraq's "territorial integrity" as a major element of U.S. strategy there.