Posted by David Lightman at 2:36 pm, updated at 4:15 pm CST
In the debate over the Democratic-led resolution to oppose President Bush's new troop deployment in Iraq, at least two Democrats complaining that it does not go far enough are planning to vote against it.
Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut today split with most of his Senate Democratic colleagues, saying the carefully-crafted bi-partisan resolution expressing opposition to Bush's Iraq troop surge is not strong enough. This made him the second to break ranks: Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) also opposes the resolution expected to be debated in the Senate next week.
Feingold has introduced legislation ending funding for U.S. troops in Iraq six months after its adoption. Dodd and others are attempting to cap troop levels.
Dodd calls the non-binding resolution meaningless.
It will no send a message to the White House, he said -- "They intend to ignore whatever we do.''
And it will not have any practical effect on the conduct of the war -- "Why not force them (the administration) to pay attention to what we do?" Dodd asked. "This is the U.S. Senate. This is not a City Council somewhere."
Dodd and Feingold aren't the only Democrats questioning the resolution: Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent Democrat, says the president already is carrying out his new plan.
"Contrast the world of reality with the world of Senate resolutions," Lieberman said at a Capitol news conference today. In the "real world," he said, "American forces are beginning to implement a new plan for success in Iraq."
But in the Senate's world, Lieberman noted, "Nothing that will come before the Senate next week will stop the implementation of a new plan for success in Iraq."
The resolution, the product of a week of negotiations among top senators on key committees, would criticize Bush's Jan. 10 plan to add 21,500 U.S. troops in Iraq and urge the administration to set benchmarks for the Iraqi government to follow.
But to gain Republican support for the resolution, it also makes clear that Congress "respect(s) the constitutional authorities given a president," and that "it is not the intent of this act to question or contravene such authority."
Dodd had four specific objections to the measure:
--It says the new level "far exceeds the expectations of many of us…and led many members of Congress to express outright opposition to augmenting our troops by 21,500." Dodd wants a stronger, more specific statement of opposition.
--It does not provide for a phased redeployment of American forces. "Quite the contrary," Dodd said.
--It would "abdicate Congress' power of the purse. "The resolutions says Congress should not take any action that would endanger U.S. troops in the field, "including the elimination or reduction of funds for troops in the field."
--It does not address strongly enough the need for dialogue with Iraq's neighbors. The resolution does call for th U. S. to "engage selected nations in the Middle East to develop a regional, internationally sponsored peace-and-reconciliation process for Iraq." Dodd thinks the word "selected" indicates a reluctance to engage Syria and Iraq.
David Lightman is Washington Bureau chief for the Hartford Courant, a Tribune Co. newspaper.