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56% of Senators Against Surge; Same as House

The Senate remains stalled on its ability to bring up and pass a resolution of disapproval for President Bush's troop surge into Iraq, with just 56 Democrats and Republicans supporting a move to debate the bill Saturday.

But while the Senate's anti-war opponents couldn't clear the 60-vote threshold necessary to move the measure forward, the "upper chamber" now is on the record with 56 out of 100 members apparently ready to disagree with Bush on Iraq. That is nearly the same proportional breakdown as the House.

In the House, 246 members voted for the resolution, or 56.5 percent of the entire body. In the Senate it was exactly 56 percent. Granted, the Senate vote, unlike the vote in the House, was just a parliamentary question on whether to move into the debate -- but Democratic leaders said they considered the vote a chance for each senator to weigh in on the war.

Unlike in the House, however, the Senate GOP votes in favor of moving forward on the disapproval resolution came almost entirely from the moderate wing of the party, along with a few conservatives facing potentially tough re-elections in 2008.

Sens. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) are all up for re-election in 2008, and all hail from states that are not exactly fertile electoral ground for pro-war votes. Collins is one of the few moderates left in the chamber, while Coleman and Smith have voting records that place right among mainstream conservatives.

Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) are solid moderates whose only political danger would ever come from within their own party in a primary.

And Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and John Warner (R-Va.) can be described as conservative mavericks, with Hagel becoming an opponent of the war early on and Warner flipping last October.

After the vote, Snowe talked about trying to continue to find more Republican support, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has no intention of bringing the non-binding resolution back up for a vote. The next bill up in the Senate will deal with the recommendations from the 9/11 commission, giving Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) and his six Republican colleagues another chance to offer their alternative amendment that differs from the version the Senate considered on Saturday.

In order to get to 60 votes, which would move a resolution to a vote on the floor, Democrats need a total of 11 Republican votes.

There are 51 natural potential votes for the Democratic side, but Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) remains at George Washington University Hospital recovering from brain surgery. And Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) was the only member of the Democratic caucus to vote against the party line.

Can the Democrats find four more Republicans to get to 60 votes? Is Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) a potential vote? Anyone else? Comment below.

By Paul Kane  |  February 17, 2007; 4:35 PM ET
 
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