Senate Democrats have been dealt a major setback on the legislation that had been considered their best hope for changing the course of the Iraq War. John McCain, ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, has announced that he and the influential John Warner will be sponsoring a symbolic “sense of the Senate” amendment instead. In July, Warner had voted for the real deal: an amendment by his fellow Virginian Jim Webb requiring that troops be given as much time between rotations as they spend on the battlefield.
UPDATE: Our good friend P_Luk says:
Tumulty chose to IGNORE the content of the bill itself as if this is all just some kind of political theater, and the LIVES and HEALTH of America troops and the welfare of their families is irrelevant.
To the beltway mindset, the very idea that the Webb amendment is PRIMARILY about the welfare of the troops, and won’t actually make all that much difference with regard to the conduct of the war, is unimaginable.
While the stated goal of the amendment is to give our troops the rest they badly need, and it would certainly do that, all sides acknowledge it would have much broader effect in the conduct of the war itself. Here is how it was explained in the New York Times last week by the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
The proposal, by Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, has strong support from top Democrats, who say that the practical effect would be to add time between deployments and force General Petraeus to withdraw troops on a substantially swifter timeline than the one he laid out before Congress this week, and that it would protect troops from serving protracted and debilitating deployments.
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware and a candidate for president, called the proposal the “easiest way” for his Republican colleagues to change the war strategy on the same day that the Bush administration released a mixed report on the Iraqi government’s progress toward various goals.