February 17, 2007

US Senate to Hold Unusual Weekend Vote on Iraq Troop 'SURGE'

US congressional debate on Iraq took a rare turn as the Senate's leadership opted to cut into lawmakers' time off to hold a vote Saturday on President George W. Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq.

"Democrats are determined to give our troops and the American people the debate they deserve, so the Senate will have another Iraq vote this Saturday," said Senate Harry Reid, leader of the Democratic majority, with legislators due to take a one-week break from Saturday.
The vote will resume debate cut off February 5 on a non-binding resolution on Bush's plan, announced in January, to send 21,500 additional combat troops.

"We will move for a clear up or down vote on the House resolution which simply calls on Congress to support the troops and opposes the escalation," Reid said.

Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who supports a text disapproving of Bush's new plan for Iraq, voiced concern Wednesday at the idea of heading home for a break.

"We are expecting to adjourn next week for a recess. I thought to myself: Why? Why, so we will get back to Iraq before we know it? ... The troop surge isn't going to wait. The Iraqi war doesn't take a recess. Our men and women aren't taking a recess," Snowe said.

"Why can't we debate now and vote on these issues? Are we saying we are simply not capable of talking?," she asked.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, referring to Republicans who have said they are eager to debate on Iraq, said: "We're calling their bluff."

House of Representatives lawmakers engaged in heated this week over a 97-word resolution that calls for supporting US soldiers already in Iraq but opposes Bush's plan to dispatch thousands of additional troops to Baghdad and the restive Al-Anbar province. It was expected to be adopted Friday.

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