U.S. senators reluctant to discuss Bush’s Iraqi plan

The U.S. Senate has decided not to consider a resolution opposing President Bush’s plans to send extra troops to Iraq. The decision came in a rare Saturday session, a day after the House of Representatives condemned the move.

So the Republicans appear to have fought off another Democratic attempt to denounce the war in Iraq. But the Democrats say that leaving the debate off the table in the Senate in counter-productive for both sides, and criticise President Bush.

“President, you are wrong! Don’t escalate this war!” called Democrat Joseph Biden.

56 to 34 is the vote against the discussion of the resolution passed the day before, on Friday. The Democrats were four votes short of the decision going ahead.

Last week the Senate found itself in a similar situation, but the different moment this week is that seven Republicans actually sided with the Democrats while voting, though it did not help to pass the debate in the Senate.

Saturday’s debates featured very emotional calls for the new resolution with “more teeth”, both by the Democrats and Republicans who said that a new plan is needed.

The resolution was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday. As far as the Senate is concerned, its Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “You can put off the debate, but you cannot escape the debate all together.”

Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein, other Democratic senators, voiced quite radical proposals – to take to vote President Bush’s powers of continuing the war in Iraq.

“And it was certainly not the mission Congress authorised in 2002,” underscored Ms Feinstein. “So the time is come for the Senate to say so, just as the House’s done. The time is come to declare that our time has come and gone in Iraq, the time is come to speak clearly, and the time is come to change course.”

This step, if taken, could push the country towards a crisis which can escalate to a constitutional crisis. 

The outcome of the vote has blocked this tendency. But the Democrats still hope that the momentum gained in the House of Representatives on Friday, may result in the president changing his strategy and bringing the troops back home. 

There has not been any reaction from the White House yet, but it is reported to be going to downplay the political advantage the Democrats may have gained with Friday’s debate.

And the Republicans have managed to make Saturday’s vote less embarrassing for the president, by blocking the debate. But the ball is still rolling, the Democrats say, and the crucial discussion is a matter of time, with more and more Republicans shifting to the opposite camp.

Republican John Warner pointed out: “It is a duty of the Iraqi forces, that’s the basic of all, the Iraqi arm forces to take on the sectarian fight.”

Meanwhile the American public is quite confused: there is one symbolic victory of Democrats followed by another symbolic victory of Republicans. 63% of Americans say the war in Iraq is hopeless, but some still have hope.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Republican Senator is sure, “We will win the war.”

And no vote so far is binding, though they produce a considerable escalation of emotions. So the public is closely watching what is happening in the Senate.