Wednesday, July 18, 2007

After a rare all-night session, the United States Senate voted today at 11 a.m. EST on the motion to invoke cloture of the Levin/Reed Amendment (S.Amdt. 2087) which would begin a pullout of United States troops from Iraq, but only 52 votes were cast in favor of the amendment and 47 were cast against it, falling short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the Republican filibuster of the measure.

Cots were brought in for the Senators to catch snatches of sleep during the long night, while some slept at their Washington, D.C. apartments for short periods of time. Pizza was brought in for senators to eat. Seven Democrats left the Senate floor to join a candlelight vigil held outside across the street from Congress.

Had the bill passed, troops would have left Iraq 120 days after the vote, and would have been out of the country by April of 2008.

Four Republican critics of the war — both of Maine’s senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, together with Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon — voted for the proposal. Collins’ was a surprise vote; although a critic, she has not been favorable toward the deadline approach. Joe Lieberman, the Independent Democrat senator from Connecticut, who caucuses with Democrats, voted with Republicans against the motion, as he has done with all Iraq war legislation this year.

Last night during the all-night senate debate, Democratic Majority Leader from Nevada, Harry Reid, asked that the Senate vote on the bill this morning. He later voted no on the motion in order to take advantage of Senate rules to reintroduce the measure.

After the motion failed, Reid proposed that the Senate look at a series of Iraq proposals, including the failed plan, and make them subject to a simple majority vote. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader from Kentucky objected, and Reid withdrew the legislation from the floor. The Senate then moved on to discussing student loans and grants.

Throughout the night, the Senators took turns speaking in front of a large sign printed “Let Us Vote”, speaking in favor of the amendment and against the Republicans for not allowing a simple majority vote. Republicans took turns decrying it, noting that Democrats did the same when they were the minority, and criticizing Democratic leaders.