The U.S. Senate is debating a new course in Iraq and Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is backing a plan that would start redeploying American troops out of Iraq within 120 days.
"As progressives, we’re going to do everything we can to really have straightforward, strong votes on getting out of Iraq," Harkin says.
Harkin also supports a plan that would cut off funding for the Iraq war on March 31st, 2008. "Republicans now have a choice: do they stand with the public on the war or do they stand with the president?" Harkin asks. "That’s what the votes this week and next week are going to show."
At least 10 Republican senators have raised concerns about the course their Republican president is pursuing in Iraq. "I see the defections…but I wonder if they’re trying to have it both ways. They come out and say, well, they don’t agree with Bush and this and that, well, let’s check the votes this week," Harkin says. "Did they vote to continue the filibuster…or did they vote to end the filibuster and vote with us to end the war?"
The senate is debating a variety of amendments this week that call for a variety of new options regarding Iraq. Harkin talked about that debate last night during a telephone conference call with bloggers, urging liberals in the blogosphere to hold Republican senators’ "feet to the fire" and urge them to vote with Democrats to end the war.
"You’ve got to let (Republican senators) know that they can’t get by hiding behind this procedural vote. That’s where bloggers can really, really help to turn up the heat on these people, especially in their states," Harkin said. "Warner in Virginia. Lugar in Indiana. Domenici in New Mexico. Sununu in New Hampshire. Collins in Maine. All these people are now running around saying, well, they don’t like what the president’s doing. Well, now’s their chance to show it."
Harkin did not mention Iowa’s Republican senator, Charles Grassley. Grassley recently rebuked Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for urging Iowans to lobby Grassley to vote to end the war in Iraq.