Hagel and Snowe Take a Principled Stand — Reid and McConnell Continue Tit-for-Tat Games: The Surge Resolution Wars Continue in the Senate


Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) upped the stakes last night in threatening to object to any motion to adjourn for a recess this next week after Presidents’ Day.
Their objection could easily be overcome with a simple roll call vote and a majority voting against them — but who wants to vote for vacation and shopping days in the malls of one’s district and state over debating the fate of America’s Iraq-based military units.
Here is the Snowe/Hagel letter pdf.
Hagel and Snowe wrote to “Harry and Mitch” (that’s Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader McConnell (R-KY):

February 14, 2007
Nearly one month ago, we joined two Democratic colleagues in introducing a resolution expressing the Senate’s disapproval of the President’s plan to increase the US troop presence in Iraq.
We subsequently joined forces with another bipartisan group of senators, led by Senator Warner, in introducing a second resolution disapproving of this “troop surge” strategy. In both instances we worked across the aisle, putting partisanship aside in the interest of the nation.
Our resolve stems both from our strong support for our troops in the field and our strong belief that deepening the U.S. military involvement in Iraq will not help solve the fundamental causes of the sectarian violence now engulfing Iraq. We believe the strategy is wrong, and that the Senate has a constitutional and moral obligation to make its views known.
Despite the fact that a clear majority of the Senate opposes this troop increase, senators have been unable to voice their opinions on this matter because Senate leadership has failed to bring the Warner resolution (S. Con. Res. 7) to a vote in a manner that satisfactorily accomodates both majority and minority viewpoints on the conduct of the war.
This runs counter to the traditions and practices of the Senate. Given that additional US troops have already deployed to Baghdad and have already begun security operations, we believe time is of the essence, and that it is unconscionable for the Senate to recess at the end of this week without an agreement to debate the war in Iraq.
We understand you have resumed discussions to reach a mutually agreeable solution to bring the Warner resolution to a vote. We sincerely hope you succeed in these efforts, and we stand ready to work with you and your staffs to bring this matter to a swift resolution.
Until such an agreement is reached, however, we hereby notify you of our intent to object to the adoption of any adjournment resolution for the Presidents’ Day recess, and further request a roll call vote on any motion to adjourn that may be made.
Olympia J. Snowe
United States Senator
Chuck Hagel
United States Senator

In response, Senate Majority Leader Reid has decided to escalate rather than accommodate these Senators and has threatened to call for a cloture vote on the House Resolution this Saturday — which in this blogger’s view is simply ineffective and a pale shadow of what the Warner Resolution calls for.
On this front — Hagel, Snowe, and the others who have signed recent letters and who are co-sponsors of the Warner resolution are correct.
And whether it is giving up the weekend — or staying in session all next week — the issue of whether to throw more troops into a bad strategy is worth giving up shopping and fundraisers for.

— Steve Clemons


24 comments on “Hagel and Snowe Take a Principled Stand — Reid and McConnell Continue Tit-for-Tat Games: The Surge Resolution Wars Continue in the Senate

  1. Pissed Off American says:

    Hmmmm, speaking about Reid and McConnell….
    House Speaker Pelosi to Address AIPAC Conference!
    Other confirmed speakers include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Leader John Boehner, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and many, many others.


  2. carsick says:

    I’m not sure who is more concerned with the tit for tat you speak of if Hamlet…I mean Hagel seems to continue to find ways to hold up a fairly generic non-binding vote supposedly due to the so-called tit for tat. The vote is essentially a tool to take the temperature of the senate in order to make the diagnosis which will come in open debate. Without his vote, we’re left in the holding pattern. Whether they can get the Senate to stay over the break or not doesn’t matter if the president will continue to throw more troops into the mix in the meantime. Vote now. Send the message to the White House and the public. Open the door. Then start to figure out the best option (none are great) for action. Holding off just supports the strategy Hagel says he doesn’t agree with.


  3. Zathras says:

    Procedure matters a lot in a centuries-old institution, which is what the Senate is. In this instance, the Republicans are right on the procedure.
    Sen. Reid, or at least his political consultants want to control the news cycle by scheduling a vote on a resolution that cannot be amended, at a time certain. If the debate were what he wanted it could have it right now, by taking up any of the Iraq resolutions — a unanimous consent agreement (or agreements) on votes could be worked out later. Even the Senate wouldn’t want to talk about surge resolutions forever.
    Doing things this way wouldn’t give Reid the media bounce he is looking for, so he’s going through this exercise of accusing the minority of obstructionism because it won’t surrender its right to offer amendments or substitutes.
    What Reid should have done is begin a Senate debate by taking up one resolution (it matters little which one) with no conditions on amendments and no time limit on the debate. In terms of public opinion his side has a decided advantage right now; an actual debate does Senate Democrats a lot more good than it does Senate Republicans. But Reid is fixed on the idea that how the eventual non-binding resolution is worded is the important product of this controversy, so he’s insisting that the Senate vote on whether or not to rubber-stamp what the House has done. It’s a foolish course of action politically, and grandstanding with a Saturday vote on a cloture motion everyone knows will lose isn’t winning Reid any admiration from his colleagues. He’d have made his own life easier and gotten the Iraq debate that can only help his party if he just showed some respect for the Senate and its traditions.


  4. PoliticalCritic says:

    Hopefully the Senate will wake up tomorrow and start debating this issue. If it takes a watered-down resolution to get these cowards to vote, then so be it.


  5. Mullah Cimoc says:

    Mullah Cimoc say israeli spy control so much the democrat party for usa people. this rahm a. manwell of chicago congress this man for the israeli.
    so dem people make the big noise but finally make just what good for the israeli. never end irak war crime until defeat the muslim the israel surrogate invasion army.


  6. Marky says:

    POA, I think that once a non-binding resolution is passed, it will be hard for the Democrats to avoid a “surge” towards withdrawal, in my opinion. Not one person is fooled into thinking that the NBR has any meaning, by itself, but it will show which way the wind is blowing. I’m quite interested to know how many Republics vote “yea” tomorrow.


  7. Pissed Off American says:

    Thousands in Germany, Italy are told they will be Deploying in mid-2007
    by Mark St.Clair
    Global Research, February 14, 2007
    Stars and Stripes – 2007-01-23
    Editorial Note
    This article from Stars and Stripes points to escalation of the war im the Middle East. It identifies various deployment activities out of US military bases in Germany. .
    While the article does not identify the reasons behind the deployment of troops and military hardware, one can reasonably assume that they bear a relationship to US war plans in regards to Iran.
    The US military is on a war footing.
    The troop deployments out of US military bases in Germany are not part of the “surge” announced by President Bush in relation to Iraq.
    Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 15 February 2007
    Some 8,500 soldiers from 43 units in Germany and Italy have received official word that they will be deploying to either Iraq or Afghanistan later this year, U.S. Army Europe officials announced Monday.
    Part of the 2007-2009 force rotation announced by the Defense Department in November, all the affected units are preparing for yearlong deployments in support of operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, USAREUR said.
    The deployment is not part of the increase of troops announced by President Bush earlier this month.
    continues at…….


  8. daCascadian says:

    Ben Rosengart >”…This non-binding resolution business is mildly silly…”
    It IS a sideshow to distract the audience (“We the people…”) while other nefarious activities take place.
    I`m wondering what is it that all this “Hoo Haa” hot air in Congress is stopping us from knowing about.
    What would the news cycle look like if these distractions weren`t sucking the oxygen out of everything else ?
    I wonder…
    “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” – George Bernard Shaw


  9. Pissed Off American says:

    “Do you have some specific objection to Reid holding a vote on the House resolution on Saturday? I know your position on whom Reid is beholden to, but if there is something nefarious going on with regards to the Saturday vote, would you explain ?”
    Well, to be honest, NO, I have no objection to holding the vote on Saturday. Heck, its a non-binding resolution, so they can vote on the damned thing anytime they want as far as I am concerned.
    Great job they’re doin’, reining Bush in, eh? I mean, what the hell, why don’t they take the whole God damned month of Febuary off, for all they’re worth. Think we’d miss ’em? Shit, they took the last six years off, whats another month? Hurrah, they are finally going to tell Bush that they don’t like the troop surge. And in return, Bush is gonna say “Fuck you, I’ll do what I damned well please”. And they will let him do exactly that.
    Look, Reid completely lost my respect when he pulled that stunt in the Senate, got a whole lot of press, adopted the monicker “Give “em Hell Harry”, then weaseled as Roberts handed him his asshole in an egg crate. Where the hell IS phase Two, and why in God’s name did Reid weasel out on us? Have you seen Reid even mention Phase Two since that Dog and Pony Show? Did you see him holding press conferences pointing out how Roberts LIED to the American public when he said the report would be out by October ’05? Did you see him demanding that Roberts make good on his promises to the American public?
    To give you an idea of what Reid is made of. At a time when his blog was rife with trolls and ad hominen insult, I saw one profane and insulting post after another languish in the comment section. But when I posted the statistics about how much Reid was raking in from AIPAC, the post was immediately pulled from his blog. It is the ONLY post I have ever seen pulled from his blog.
    BFD. A non-binding resolution. They’de do FAR MORE good if they would hold press conferences and OUTLINE, specifically and honestly, the litany of LIES that we were fed, and are currently being fed. And then, IN ONE VOICE, demand accountability, and institute the very real mechanisms they have at their disposal to exact accountability.
    This resolution business is a fucking joke. It means absolutely NOTHING. It is a bunch of complicit enablers seeking to go on record as opposing the very debacle they CREATED by their cowardice and subservience to a fascist and treasonous executive administration.
    “Give ’em Hell Harry” is a fraud. If these bastards like Reid had it in them to “give em hell”, then this nation wouldn’t be in this situation. And a few hundred thousand Iraqis might still be alive, we might still respect habeas corpus, our courts would not be getting purged and stacked, and these lying sacks of shit like Cheney and Bush would NOT be sitting in OUR White House.
    Now its Iran. And why not? After all, we let these bastards get away with doin’ Iraq. Our Congress has shown this Administration that lying this nation into war will be tolerated, torture will be tolerated, flagrant constitutional abuses will be tolerated, missing billions of taxpayers money will be tolerated, abandoning a major American city will be tolerated, malfeasance will be tolerated, cronyism will be tolerated…need I go on?
    And now we get a non-binding resolution.
    Whoopee, give ’em hell, Harry.


  10. Ben Rosengart says:

    What makes the Warner resolution better than the House one?
    This non-binding resolution business is mildly silly. I don’t think it will stop Bush from starting a shooting war with Iran, which he seems committed to doing.


  11. weldon berger says:

    Steve, who are the extremes on the Democratic side of the aisle whom you reject, and what makes them extreme? Is there anyone who advocates anything not supported by majorities or large pluralities among the public?


  12. gq says:

    Clemons: “I admire Hagel, and the other Republicans who are opposing the surge.”
    My view is that actions speak louder than words. Hagel sure talks nicely, but he personally helped to thwart efforts to bring on a debate. He refused to subject the resolution he claims to support to a vote. Chafee at least put an end to Bolton after he talked about it. Hagel seems more interested in talking a big talk rather than walking the walk.


  13. Easy E says:

    Great posts, all!
    However, please hurry with rest of the Iran ’03 Proposal scoop.


  14. gq says:

    I don’t think it’s about “giving up” on “all” Republicans. It’s about Hagel agreeing to filibuster a resolution he claims to support. Reid was happy to subject all three major resolutions to votes, but that was thwarted solely by Republicans. Only two GOPers voted for debate and you called for purging of the Senators who didn’t until you noticed Hagel’s name on the list and then you started calling him brave in an almost sycophantic manner. That’s internally inconsistent until you disavow what you posted after the vote–which I haven’t seen you do. My frustration with your Hagel posts is the inconsistency.
    Hagel comes off to me as a weasel now. I wouldn’t vote for him, but always found him to be one of the more reasonable senators in his caucus. But then again, I should have expected this behavior from someone who votes with Bush more than just about every other member of Congress.


  15. Marky says:

    Do you have some specific objection to Reid holding a vote on the House resolution on Saturday? I know your position on whom Reid is beholden to, but if there is something nefarious going on with regards to the Saturday vote, would you explain ?


  16. Pissed Off American says:

    Steve, have you reconsidered what this Reid bozo is made of?
    I tried to warn ya.


  17. NCProsecutor says:

    If Senator Hagel runs for President in 2008, that should be his campaign slogan:
    “I said it’s butter!”


  18. Marky says:

    My position is very simple: I like a lot of what he says, but he has a terrible track record for backing up his words with consequent votes. In terms of his public speech, I will grant that he is a forceful advocate for change in US foreign policy. The fact that his votes do not match his rhetoric makes him much less influential than he could be—in fact, he might as well be a blogger if he doesn’t want to cast votes for change.
    Surely, Steve, you understand that Hagel must be viewed as akin to Specter by the White House: an annoying gnat outside of the Senate Chambers, but a reliable yes-man inside.
    I don’t want you to abandon all Republicans. I want you to abandon the Republicans [in the Senate] who might as well be Tom Coburn, judging from their voting record. Hagel is extremely, nauseatingly conservative on hot-button social issues. If I’m to be buttered up about him in any way, it will take some real butter, so to speak, not just “I said its butter”. Can’t he do ONE substantive thing? Nebraska should not have the Prince of Denmark representing it!


  19. km4 says:

    Here’s the mentality of today’s Republican Party
    AK Rep Don Young Just Called for Dems’ Execution!
    Keep it up Bush/Cheney because the GOP in all likelihood will lose another 30 House seats and 5 -10 Senate seats in 2008.


  20. NCProsecutor says:

    Dear Steve,
    Again, you bow down at the altar of Chuck Hagel without explaining what he is actually *doing* to oppose escalation in Iraq. He gives a lot of speeches, he writes letters, but he fails the simple test of the cloture vote. Please explain how that vote makes him heroic? And please, don’t give us, “Hagel refuses to aid and abet the political gamesmanship being played by Reid and McConnell.” That is a meaningless answer. If Hagel wants to vote for the Warner resolution (or the House resolution), then let him step up in the cloture vote. Otherwise, I have no use for his version of “opposition” to the escalation in Iraq. And neither should you.
    With continuing disappointment,
    PS — The above applies with equal force to Olympia Snowe.


  21. km4 says:

    Hmmm perhaps Steve Clemons is showing his bipolar side again.
    Senate Vote on House Iraq Resolution May Force Debate
    Nice move, Senator Reid…
    The Republicans must be scrambling around in a panic at this news. Remember, just two short days ago they were circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter among themselves that clearly stated:
    “If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose”.
    Is this where we say, “Bring it on?”


  22. Steve Clemons says:

    Marky — you know I agree with you frequently, and you seem to want me to abandon all Republicans — when it is the extremes in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that I reject. I admire Hagel, and the other Republicans who are opposing the surge.
    Steve Clemons


  23. Marky says:

    An alternative theory is that Hagel and Snowe continue to abet the Bush team using any available means. In a comparison of toothless resolutions, I’ll take the simple House version over the Warner version any day.
    Besides which, Warner’s obeisance to White House language requirements (“augmentation”) sends the wrong message about toughness.
    The important thing is to understand that a resolution is only the first step. Once that step is taken, the door is opened for further, more muscular actions in opposition to the President’s plan.
    Hagel’s voting record shows a pattern of obstructionism. Frankly, I don’t give a damn what he says anymore—his day is done.


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