Republicans had the first crack at the latest war funding bill, as they offered $70 billion "bridge fund" that had no limitations in terms of troop withdrawal or changing the mission in Iraq. The GOP measure failed 53-45, well short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster in the Senate.
The Democratic bill, which has already passed the House, was backed by a majority of the Senate, but still fell short of the 60 vote threshold, 53-45. Three Republicans backed the Democratic bill, which would require troop withdrawals to begin immediately, but had a soft "target" for a December 2008 completion date for troop withdrawal.
The two failed Iraq bills means Congress goes home for a two-week Thanksgiving break with continued gridlock over Iraq funding. The massive farm bill, the rest of the appropriations bills and a compromise on the alternative minimum tax also remain stalled heading into December.
Both parties are already using the votes for political gain, with Republicans contending Democrats are denying the troops critical funding as they run short on money while Democrats say the troops can have the money as long as President Bush agrees to their limitations on the funds.
In truth, neither Iraq bill ever had a chance to pass. Democrats have gambled that over the next few months the Pentagon can find extra money within existing Department of Defense accounts to fund the war.