May 18 2007

Shelby hopes legislators open to Iraq compromise

Times Daily

By Laura Onstot
Medill News Service

WASHINGTON -- Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said he hopes the defeat of a move to force a Senate vote Wednesday to pull troops out of Iraq is a sign legislators on both sides are open to compromise.

A move to force a Senate vote on an amendment to get troops out of Iraq by the spring 2008 was defeated 67-28. Four senators did not vote.

Opponents included 18 Democratic Senators.

Shelby said he hopes the vote is a sign legislators on both sides of the aisle are willing to start looking at compromise legislation for continued war funding that does not include withdrawal dates.

"It breathes some reality into the situation -- the political situation on the hill," Shelby, a Republican, said in a phone interview after the vote.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions also voted against the motion.

Shelby said he would not be opposed to legislation that includes goals or benchmarks for the fledgling Iraqi government, even though he supported the president's veto of the Iraq war-funding bill passed by the Senate last month with a timetable for withdrawal.

"I think we have to start with the basic premise that whether you're a Democrat or a Republican that we're all concerned with the situation in Iraq -- and frustrated," Shelby said.

The vote itself was procedural, not a vote on the actual amendment. Such votes are often seen as a means to test the positions of senators.

A similar motion to force a vote on a Republican proposal tying some U.S. aid to benchmarks for the Iraqi government failed to receive the three-fifths majority needed, but obtained a simple majority.

Both Shelby and Sessions supported the motion.

The series of votes Wednesday means that debate on the war in Iraq will continue. The senators did pass a non-binding resolution expressing the need for a final war bill by Memorial Day.