Let's Debate All Night Long

I haven’t decided if I plan on staying up all night long to watch the Senate debate on the Reed-Levin Amendment but if I do, I’ll be on the lookout for Tom Harkin.  As I reported this morning on Iowa Independent, Harkin is supporting Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move to keep the Senate open all night to make the Republicans publicly display the filibuster they’re putting forward on the Reed-Levin legislation.

But I’m glad to see Senate Democrats standing up and truly playing hardball with obstructionist Republicans.  I value the filibuster–it is a worthwhile political tool in the Senate for the minority–but when threats of filibusters are used time and time again to stymie meaningful legislation (that could just as easily be (or will be) vetoed by President Bush) then it is time for Democrats to make sure that the American public get a chance to really see what Republicans are doing and saying.  Democrats never took the filibuster option this far on Iraq legislation or anything other that judicial nominations when we were the minority in the two most recent congressional sessions.  Maybe that’s because we were being naive or something, but we didn’t.  Clearly, we weren’t prepared for Republicans to do it us and now it is time that we respond in a way that proves our leadership.  We’re on the side of the American people and they should be allowed to see us fighting for them while Republicans protect the President, not the troops in Iraq.

Before we get too far into the debate (which is already happening currently on C-SPAN 2), let’s take a look at what exactly the Reed-Levin Amendment to the Defense Authorization bill does.  From Spencer Ackerman over at TPM Election Central:

How It Would Work: Again similar to a measure pushed by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the armed services committee, in the spring. Joined by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) this time, the Levin amendment would start troop withdrawals from 120 days after passage, to be completed by April 1, 2008. In the interim, troops in Iraq would have their mission shift to training Iraq troops, fighting al-Qaeda, and protecting themselves from attack.

Likelihood of Passage: It’s not a certainty for inclusion as an amendment. Harry Reid successfully shepherded the measure’s predecessor through the supplemental, where it inevitably met President Bush’s veto pen. Both men will probably do the same thing again.

Political Purpose: The big enchilada: getting out of Iraq by a date certain. Many Senate Dems clearly think that the public has coalesced around withdrawal, and even in defeat, they’ll get the opportunity to distinguish themselves from Bush and the GOP going into 2008 while hanging the war around their opponent’s necks as an albatross.”

This is where Sen. Tom Harkin’s call for bloggers to put the Republican defectors feet to the fire on the issue of Iraq and to put the pressure on those who are abandoning the troops in Iraq to give President Bush political cover:

“Now more than ever we need the progressive blogosphere to do what they do best—to rally around those that support a change of course in  Iraq and to call out those who would rather follow the orders of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney than the voice of the American people.”

Democrats are prepared to debate all night with the Republicans who say they’re ready to filibuster.  Those of us activists and bloggers out there who support the Democrats, let’s make sure we show it.  As my colleague and friend Lynda Waddington reported, there will be a counter-filibuster sponsored by MoveOn and Iraq Summer here in Des Moines tonight; if you can make it, please do.

Oh, and I finally heard a Democrat use “up or down vote” language today on the floor of the Senate.  Thank you Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

About the Author(s)

Chris Woods