Iraq: This Is Only a Test
If you tune in to C-SPAN2 on Tuesday, you might think you've stumbled upon an important turning point in the nation's Iraq war policy. But as the emergency broadcast system likes to say, this is only a test.
The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on two Iraq-related measures sponsored by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a staunch opponent of the war. The first proposal would cut off most money for Iraq troop deployments four months after being signed into law, with funding allowed only for a few purposes such as protecting American forces and training the Iraqi military. The second Feingold measure would require President Bush to give Congress "a report setting forth the global strategy of the United States to combat and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates."
The first measure is unlikely to get the 60 votes necessary to move forward in the Senate, and Democratic leaders know that, because similar measures have failed before. The fate of the second bill is less clear, though there's no reason to think it will go any further.
So why schedule votes on them?
Such "test votes" do have a purpose -- they provide a status report so that party leaders know where senators' are coming down on the issue, and they can be fodder for party messaging. Democrats will likely use the votes as their latest hook for arguing that the U.S. military is overextended and troops need to come home. Republicans are expected to counter that Democrats are just playing games rather than focusing on substantive legislation, like a new terrorist surveillance law.
So don't expect a huge shift in Iraq policy come Tuesday. Instead, you'll get a debate that you've seen before and will likely see again before the year is out.
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