Democrats cranked up pressure on the White House over Iraq on 15 March 2007 scoring an initial coup in the House of Representatives, but then failed to get through a troop withdrawal plan through the Senate.
Rancour between Congress’s majority Democrats and President George W. Bush and his Republican backers hardened amid fierce debate over two bills advancing a timetable to get combat troops out of Iraq’s cauldron of violence by next year.
The Senate rejected a Democratic bill by 50 votes to 48 which set a goal of a withdrawal of troops by March 2008, in the latest twist of a bitter political tussle sparked by a war which has claimed 3,209 U.S. lives.
One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against the measure, while one Republican, Gordon Smith of Oregon, who has already broken with the president over the war, voted with the Democrats.
Bush, who accuses Democrats of trying to micromanage the war and of trying to handcuff his constitutional powers as commander in chief, had threatened to veto the bill.
Democrats had little hope of piling up the 60 vote super-majority they needed to assure the passage of the bill in the senate, but their strategy was designed to publicly tighten the screws on Republicans over the unpopular war.
In the House of Representatives, Democrats did succeed in forcing a separate attempt to pull troops out of Iraq by September 2008 through the powerful Appropriations Committee.
Members voted to insert the deadline in Bush’s 120 billion dollar budget request for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, overriding Republican opposition and in defiance of another presidential veto threat.
The full House is expected to consider the bill next week.
In a clutch of Iraq votes, the Senate also voted 96-2 to pass a Democratic bill expressing support for the troops in Iraq and calling for the provision of adequate medical care when they return home wounded.
The largely symbolic measure states that supporting the troops also means giving them proper training before they are deployed.