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Another Democratic Iraq Amendment Goes Down

The Senate will adjourn for the weekend after a long week of tense debate over Iraq in which Democrats failed to move the ball and Republicans decided to stick with the White House in backing an unpopular war.

Yet another Democratic amendment on Iraq failed Friday morning, and this one didn't even earn a majority of Senate votes. The vote was 47-47 on an amendment sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that would have required a change of mission in Iraq while mandating firm timetables for withdrawal. The amendment needed 60 votes to pass, and three Democrats voted against the measure, making it clear that no matter how Democrats craft their legislation, a majority of senators are uncomfortable mandating time tables for troop withdrawal. Only one Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), backed the measure.

The rejection of the Levin-Reed proposal means the only amendment passed by the Senate this week was a resounding 72-25 condemnation of the now infamous MoveOn.org ad that portrayed Gen. David Petraeus as "General Betray Us." While Republicans have enjoyed a good ride ripping MoveOn and the anti-war movement for the past two weeks, Democrats have scaled back the expectation that many Republicans would join them and vote on binding measures to end the war.

Some moderates that have been targeted by Democrats as possible vote-switchers on the war seem to be turned off with the no-compromise attitude of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Harry Reid has called up the same amendments for the same votes and gotten the same results - more gridlock on Iraq," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "Instead of posturing for political gain, it’s time for the Senate’s leaders to sit down with those of us trying to find a consensus."

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