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GOP kills Rumsfeld no-confidence vote in Senate

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate shot down an attempt by Democrats to bring a vote of no confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the floor Wednesday.

The resolution, which Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, first proposed and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, introduced, was offered as an amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill.

But before the resolution saw a vote, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, used a procedural move to kill the resolution because it was not pertinent to the Pentagon spending measures being considered.

For days, Democrats promoted the resolution as a significant political move against Rumsfeld and the administration's Iraq policies.

The resolution called on President Bush to "change the course in Iraq to provide a winning strategy."

"One indication of a change of course would be to replace the current Secretary of Defense," the resolution says.

When introducing the resolution, Reid referred to Rumsfeld's speech last week in Salt Lake City, Utah, which outraged many Democrats. Addressing the American Legion convention, Rumsfeld accused critics of the Iraq war of turning a blind eye to "a new type of fascism" and "returning to that old mentality of 'blame America first.' " (Full story)

"These assertions were offensive and indicative of a secretary of defense who has lost his way, who is not capable of overseeing America's defense or certainly a new direction in Iraq, who is more concerned, it seems, with the Bush administration's political fortunes than the safety and security of the American people, and who must be replaced," Reid said. (Watch Sen. Reid call for Rumsfeld's dismissal -- 1:58)

Even if the resolution would have passed, Rumsfeld would not have been ousted from office. Aides on both sides of the aisle predicted that Republicans would kill the resolution on parliamentary grounds before it got to a vote.

Before the vote, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Virginia, called the Democratic resolution a "blatant assault on the president that I will oppose," while the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, had a different take.

"If I thought the policies would change by Rumsfeld leaving, I'd be all in favor of calling for that," Levin said. "But I'm afraid these polices are not only in stone, but we have an administration that thinks it's doing just great in Iraq. But they're getting deeper and deeper into a hole."

Defense chief said to have Bush's 'full confidence'

Responding earlier to a letter from Reid for a "new direction," White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten nixed the plan of a "phased withdrawal" of American troops from Iraq, saying "any premature withdrawal of U.S. forces would have disastrous consequences for America's security."

"This 'new direction' would lead to a crippling defeat for America and a staggering victory for Islamic extremists," Bolten wrote. "That is not a direction this president will follow."

Further, Bolten dismissed Reid's suggestion that Bush replace Rumsfeld.

"Secretary Rumsfeld is an honorable and able public servant," Bolten wrote. "Under his leadership, the United States armed forces and our allies have overthrown two brutal tyrannies and liberated more than 50 million people. Al Qaeda has suffered tremendous blows. (Watch as Rumsfeld plays hardball with war critics -- 2:43)

"Secretary Rumsfeld has pursued vigorously the president's vision for a transformed U.S. military. And he has played a lead role in forging and implementing many of the policies you now recommend in Iraq. Secretary Rumsfeld retains the full confidence of the president."

The defense chief has said he has offered his resignation before, and Bush has refused it. The president said in April that he wanted Rumsfeld to stay, declaring, "I'm the decider."


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