Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John Warner (R-VA) have reached agreement on a compromise bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush’s Iraq escalation policy. Levin and Warner had co-sponsored competing anti-escalation resolutions, both of which risked failing to garner enough votes to break a conservative filibuster.
CNN’s Dana Bash reported moments ago, “What is going on as we speak, behind the scenes, Wolf, is Democrats and Republicans who oppose sending more troops to Iraq are trying to figure out how to join forces, come up with one single resolution that can get them the 60 votes that they need in order to pass that resolution, making clear to the president they disagree with his plan.”
The Levin/Warner compromise is unexpected and very significant. Robert Novak reported Monday that Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) had tried and failed to reach agreement with Warner late last week.
This new deal is likely to foil right-wing efforts to prevent the Senate from passing a strong anti-escalation resolution. Conservative leaders “had hoped to divide Senate opinion largely along party lines, to allow Bush to argue that any outright statement opposing his plan was politically motivated partisanship,” the Washington Post reported today.
BLITZER: This just coming into “The Situation Room,” a possible deal on Capitol Hill with significant ramifications for the president’s plan in Iraq. Let’s go to our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. What are you picking up, Dana?
BASH: Wolf, what happened this evening is, Democrat Carl Levin, the chairman of Democratic Armed Services Committee and one of the major sponsors of the mostly-Democratic resolution that we expect to come up next week opposing the president’s plan in Iraq, he tonight signed on to one of the resolutions supported and proposed by Republican John Warner and several other Republicans.
Now, he did that after Senator Warner and other Republicans made some minor changes to their resolution. And the significance is this. What is going on as we speak, behind the scenes, Wolf, is Democrats and Republicans who oppose sending more troops to Iraq are trying to figure out how to join forces, come up with one single resolution that can get them the 60 votes that they need in order to pass that resolution, making clear to the president they disagree with his plan.
BLITZER: Well, this is a significant development. Because Carl Levin is the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. John Warner was the chairman. He’s the ranking member. But both are highly respect on national security issues. The presumption would be they’re going to bring in a lot of their fellow senators into this joint language.
BASH: That is the presumption, especially on the Democratic side. You know, it was sort of expected when we got to the point where Democrats were going to have to choose, that they would probably go ahead and vote for the resolution that’s being sponsored mostly by Republican John Warner. But the fact that Senator Levin decided to go ahead and sign onto this resolution now is significant. It just shows what’s going on behind the scenes to try to figure out thousand get this vote as big as possible. And it comes down next week.
What’s interesting is, Senator Warner changed this language to appeal not just to Democrats, but also Republicans. For example, he put language in here that Senator Judd Gregg, the Republican from New Hampshire says that they wants to make clear they’re not going to cut funding for troops in Iraq.