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February 18, 2007

Senate gridlocks on Iraq

MEASURE: Vote falls four short of number for passing.

the associated press

WASHINGTON — The Senate gridlocked on the Iraq war in a sharply worded showdown Saturday as Republicans foiled a Democratic bid to repudiate President Bush’s deployment of 21,500 additional combat troops.

The 56-34 vote fell four short of the 60 needed to advance a nonbinding measure identical to one the House passed Friday. Seven GOP senators broke ranks, compared with only two during an earlier test on the issue.

Democrats swiftly claimed victory. “A majority of the United States Senate is against the escalation in Iraq,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “As for the Republicans who chose once again to block further debate and protect President Bush, the American people now know they support the escalation” in troops.

Republicans blasted the Democratic leadership for refusing to allow a vote on an alternative that ruled out any reduction in money for troops in the field.

“There is no place for chicanery at a time of war,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “Even some of the president’s most strident opponents know that. They know that the only vote that truly matters is a vote on whether to fund the troops.”

The White House echoed his remarks, issuing a written statement that touched lightly on the votes in the House and Senate, and looked to the coming debate over Bush’s request for an additional $93 billion for the military.

“This week’s voting gave the world a glimpse of democracy’s vigor. The next votes should provide unmistakable assurance of this nation’s resolve in achieving success, supporting the cause of democracy and stopping terrorist forces in their ultimate aim of bringing their violence to our shores,” said the statement, issued in the name of press secretary Tony Snow.

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