Water Resources Development Act of 2007/Iraq War amendments

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This page is part of Congresspedia’s coverage of Congress and the Iraq War
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When the Senate was considering a supplemental spending measure with a non-binding deadline for the completion of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq in April 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to placate some Senate Democrats by promising to support a much stronger bill by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) at a later point. On May 16, Reid brought two amendments to the floor on an unrelated water infrastructure bill.

The first was Feingold's bill, which required the president to begin the withdrawal of troops within four months and complete it by March 31, 2008, with no more funding for Congress after that. The amendment was defeated in a 29-67 vote (60 votes were needed).

The second was an amendment by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) which required the president to report to Congress on the status of the 18 benchmarks he established for progress by the Iraqis when he proposed the troop surge. It would cut off economic development funding for the Iraq government if progress was not being made and also required the president to withdraw U.S. troops if requested by the Iraqi government. The amendment was defeated in a 52-44 vote (60 votes were needed).

Main article: Congressional actions to end the Iraq War in the 110th Congress


Contents

Reid uses water resources bill to debate Iraq War

On May 14, 2007 Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced two amendments to a water-resources bill (H.R.1495) aimed at addressing the Iraq War, the first of which mirrored the Feingold legislation. The second amendment was similar to the previously passed legislation (which Bush vetoed) and would provide funding to U.S. combat troops, as well as call for withdrawal deadlines. The amendment, however, would include waivers allowing Bush to sidestep any Iraq withdrawal timeline. [1]


Feingold amendment

This amendment, by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), was originally a stand-alone bill, S.1077. The bill, however, had not seen action since it was introduced on April 10, 2007 and referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.


The bill/amendment called on the president to begin the withdrawal of troops within four months and would cut off funding for the continued deployment of U.S. soldiers in Iraq beyond March 31, 2008. Specifically, the bill/amendment called for the following:

  • "The president shall promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the following limited purposes:
  1. "Conducting targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.
  2. "Providing security for United States infrastructure and personnel.
  3. "Training and equipping Iraqi security services.
  • "The president shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq in no more than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this act.
  • "No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008.[2] [3]

Vice-President Dick Cheney responded to the continued Democratic effort in Congress to end the war by stating, “The Democrats believe they can make the president accept unwise and inappropriate restrictions on our commanders…They're going to find out that they've misread George W. Bush.”[4]

On May 16, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the Feingold measure, 29-67. No Republicans supported the measure. Following the vote, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated "Once again, an overwhelming bipartisan majority rejected giving our enemy a timeline for withdrawal...The U.S. Senate has continued to show that an arbitrary surrender date is a non-starter. We need to move forward with the business of ensuring our troops have the funding, training and equipment they need to complete their mission."[5]


Warner amendment

Warner's amendment:

  • Cited the 18 benchmarks the President had established to Congress in January and that the Iraqi government had agreed upon (see the main article, Iraq benchmarks). It then required:
    • The president to submit a report to Congress by July 15, 2007, on the progress towards meeting the benchmarks and the "advisability of implementing such aspects of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, as he deems appropriate."
    • The president to report the revisions to U.S. strategy for any of the benchmarks that had not been satisfied.
    • The president to submit a second report on Sept. 15, 2007 and for the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq to testify in open and closed congressional committee hearings about the report.
  • Cut off funding for the Economic Support Fund for Iraq if the president could not report that Iraq was "making progress on each of the benchmarks," though the president had the option to waive this requirement if he made a report to Congress on how the U.S. was going to bring the Iraqi government into compliance with the benchmarks.
  • Required the president to remove U.S. forces from Iraq if the Iraqi government "reached a consensus as recited in a resolution" asking for this.
  • Required the Comptroller General of the United States to submit an independent report on the status of the achievement of the benchmarks.
  • Funded $750,000 for the Department of Defense to commission an independent non-profit organization with expertise in military affairs to prepare a report within 120 days on the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces to provide internal security and root out terrorists within 12-18 months and whether continued support by U.S. troops would help the ISF accomplish these goals.[6]

When a cloture vote was brought to end debate and bring a vote on the amendment, supporters were only able to garner 52 of the 60 votes they needed.


Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. Elana Schor, "Reid sets Iraq litmus test," The Hill, May 15, 2007.
  2. Noam N. Levey, “Reid opens new war front,” Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2007.
  3. Bob Geiger, "Democratic Senators on cutting off Bush's funds: Just say 'Yea'," Alternet, April 5, 2007.
  4. Noam N. Levey, “Reid opens new war front,” Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2007.
  5. Klaus Marre, "Senate rejects setting Iraq withdrawal deadline," The Hill, May 16, 2007.
  6. Text of Warner's amendment, available at Thomas.

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