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Leahy, Sanders on losing side of Senate troop withdrawal vote

WASHINGTON — Vermont’s two senators were on the losing side of a vote today that would have seen troops home from Iraq by March 31.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday supported an amendment offered by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-WI, which would have required the president to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq by March 31, 2008.

Leahy and Sanders were leading co-sponsors of the amendment, which makes limited exceptions for small numbers of troops needed to train Iraqi troops, to protect remaining U.S. personnel, and for counter-terrorism efforts. The amendment lost in a procedural vote of 29 to 67.

The amendment was stronger than the redeployment provisions that recently prompted Pres. George W. Bush to veto a supplemental appropriations bill.

After the vote, Leahy said, “The nation was misled into a war that White House incompetence has made increasingly worse for our troops, for Iraqis and for our country. Instead of making us safer, this war has diverted our attention and resources from the fight against al-Quaeda and from a lengthening list of other security and foreign policy challenges. We need to keep pushing, step by step, until we succeed in getting our troops out of the middle of Iraq’s civil war.”

Sanders said, “Today, I voted for legislation to start bringing our troops home within four months and have virtually everyone out of Iraq by the end of next March. The war in Iraq, which Pres. Bush misled us into, has been a disaster. The American people know it. The Iraqis know it. The shrinking coalition that backed the invasion in the first place knows it. Only President Bush and his blind loyalists are ignoring reality by refusing to change course in Iraq. “

Sanders said the amendment would have allowed for a “responsible, phased redeployment” and would have sent “a clear message to the Iraqi people themselves that they must begin to work through the difficult issues that will be necessary to create a stable and lasting peace.”


Posted May 16, 2007

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