The Feingold-Reid amendment, expected to come up tomorrow morning, will be for the Senate what the McGovern amendment was in last week's House vote on the Iraq supplemental--the baseline vote for how committed Democratic senators are to ending this war before the next election.
What's more, as noted in this AP story it:
has the makings of a turning point in the Democratic presidential campaign, obliging Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama to take a fresh look at calls for cutting off war funds.
The vote will show the willingness of Clinton and Obama, and all the Democratic Senators, to exercise their most important Congressional power--the power of the purse--to check the executive.
Obama announced today that he will support Feingold-Reid, though in his statement he doesn't address the concept of ending the funding.
"Tomorrow, I expect cloture votes on two other proposals. One is the Reid-Feingold plan, which would begin a withdrawal of troops in 120 days and end all combat operations on April 1. The other is Senator Levin's proposal, which would create standards and benchmarks for additional funding.... Meanwhile, I'll continue to press for my own plan, and work to find the 16 votes in the Senate to pass it with a veto-proof majority and bring our troops home quickly, safely and responsibly."
Those illusory 16 Republican votes (and the 75+ that will also have to be rounded up in the House) sure seem like a pipe dream now, in May, 2007. All I can say is good luck with that one, Senator. The important thing is support for Feingold-Reid and the underlying concept that Congress will have to assume the responsibility for this one, by ending the funding.
Senator Dodd signaled his support of the legislation weeks ago, by becoming a co-sponsor. He would prefer to have a straight yes or no vote on the legislation, to not have it presented as a non-germaine amendment to another bill, but the realities of our very slim majority in the Senate and legislative procedure preclude that.
Likewise, Senator Edwards is urging support for the amendment:
"It is time to end this war. The only real power Congress has to end the war is their funding power, which is why I and others have been calling on them to use it for some time. I would actually go further than Reid-Feingold and use the funding authority, not just to set an ultimate deadline, but to force an immediate withdrawal of 40-50,000 troops, followed by a complete withdrawal in about a year. But using the funding authority to bring this war to an end is exactly the right thing to do. Every Senator who believes this war is wrong and wants to end it should support Reid-Feingold."
Obviously, he doesn't have to vote on it and is using it to pressure the other Senators in the race, as expected. Until a few weeks ago, Edwards wouldn't comment on Feingold-Reid, but as ending the funding for the war increasingly becomes the default position for Dems and the most likely way to bring this war to a responsible end, he's understandably on board.
Senator Clinton has not yet released a statement, nor has Senator Biden.
A second amendment on Iraq is going to be offered as well, Levin-Reed. This is essentially a redux of the supplemental bill vetoed by Bush, with the exception that the timeline is waivable. This might be seen as a safe fall back for Dems who aren't ready for Feingold-Reid, but it shouldn't be. Its primary value is in putting pressure on Republicans. This watered down version of the supplemental will be a test for them, and whether any of them truly are ready to break with the President.
Call your Senators' DC offices. The switchboard number is 1-202-224-3121 from where you can be transferred to your Senator, or search for the direct number here. Urge them to support the Feingold-Reid amendment tomorrow.
Update: Sen. Wyden just announced he is cosponsoring Feingold/Reid. Thank you, Senator.