WASHINGTON — The antiwar movement voiced outrage that the Republican minority in the Senate voted Feb. 5 to block debate on a bipartisan resolution condemning President Bush’s plan to send an additional 48,000 troops into the bloody Iraq quagmire.

The vote was 49 in favor of opening debate and 47 opposed, 11 short of the 60 required to move forward on the resolution. Only two Republicans, Susan Collins (Maine) and Norm Coleman (Minn.), voted with 47 Democrats to open the debate. Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), an independent, voted with the GOP obstructionists. Even Republican Sens. John Warner (Va.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.), sponsors of the anti-surge resolution, voted for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s motion to quash the debate.

“Senator Warner voted to filibuster his own resolution,” said Moira Mack, spokeswoman for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. “It is incomprehensible that he would draft a resolution against escalating the war, work out a compromise with Democrats and members of his own party, but then join forces with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the Republican leadership … and obstruct a debate on the most important issue facing the country, the war in Iraq.”

Warner “should drop the political games and allow the bipartisan resolution, his resolution, to come to a vote,” she told the World. “President Bush is escalating the war against the opposition of a bipartisan majority in Congress, his own military commanders and an overwhelming majority of Americans. Escalating the war will not make this country safer, and the American people deserve to know where every member of this Congress stands.”

The GOP’s obstructionist maneuvers on the Iraq war are similar to their tactics on raising the minimum wage. Senate Republicans loaded the minimum wage bill, approved overwhelmingly in the House, with billions in “poison pill” tax cuts for businesses. The Senate is emerging as the stronghold of the corporate ultra-right in blocking delivery on the voters’ mandate in the Nov. 7 elections.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq is a grassroots movement including the Service Employees International Union, MoveOn.org, VoteVets.org, Win Without War, US Action, the Campaign for Americas Future, the United States Student Association and other organizations with millions in combined membership.

“We’re going to continue to push for a vote on this resolution,” Mack said. “We have veterans and military families lobbying on Capitol Hill this week to demand that the lawmakers allow a vote this week in the Senate and in the House next week.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said they would open debate on the anti-escalation resolution in the House, where a stronger antiwar majority makes passage more likely.

Mack said her group “recognizes that this nonbinding resolution is not perfect. It is a very important first step. We think a strong bipartisan vote for this resolution in the Senate would be very representative of the American people’s point of view.”

VoteVets.org staged a “fly around” to eight cities in seven states with “moderate” Republican senators Jan. 30-31 to urge them to vote for the anti-escalation resolution. The effort also included running local television ads in Maine, Virginia and Minnesota against escalation during the Superbowl football game.

“But only two senators, Collins of Maine and Coleman of Minnesota, heeded that message,” Mack said. VoteVets.org left a warning with each of the GOP senators that their group will work actively to defeat them in upcoming elections if they refuse to take a stand against escalation.

During Senate floor debate, Feb. 5, McConnell, the GOP minority leader, claimed the Republicans favored debate provided the Democrats also allowed a vote on a bill by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) stating that Congress would not cut funding for troops in the field. It was a pre-emptive move to squelch any future attempt by Congress to use the power of the purse strings to force Bush to end the war, as well as divide Democrats and Republicans who are against the surge but aren’t yet committed to cutting funding. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) angrily rejected this “stay the course” ploy.

Several binding resolutions are pending in the Senate and House, including one by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) to restrict funding to only what is needed to safely withdraw U.S. troops on a clear timetable and to provide reconstruction aid to the Iraqi people.

Reid blasted the GOP for blindly supporting Bush’s war. During the four years of Republican majority control, “the Senate sat silent as thousands of United States soldiers died, billions were spent and Iraq lapsed into chaos,” he said. “As Americans, we cannot allow the silence to continue.” A vote for McConnell’s motion “is a green light for Bush to continue down the same track, sending 48,000 more troops. We must heed the results of the November elections … send a clear message to President Bush that escalation is not the answer.”

greenerpastures21212 @ yahoo.com

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