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Votes in Senate possibly end war debate till next year

  • Story Highlights
  • A $50 billion war funding bill requiring troops to start coming home blocked
  • Democrats have said current bill is only one they'll vote on before end of year
  • A $70 billion Republican version without restrictions also failed to advance
  • Defense chief: Bases may face layoffs unless bill OK'd without restrictions
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senators on Friday weren't able to muster enough support to bring dueling war-funding bills to a final vote, possibly ending debate on the issue until next year.

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Sen. Harry Reid says Congress will only provide more war funding with restrictions.

The Democratic plan would have provided $50 billion in supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- mostly for Iraq -- with the condition that troops start being pulled from the country within 30 days.

The GOP plan would have provided $70 billion in supplemental war funding with no restrictions. The procedural vote was 45-53, 15 votes under the number needed to advance the bill.

The vote on the Democratic plan was 53-45, or seven short of advancing.

The Democratic leadership said Thursday that the current bill would be the only one they would vote on before the end of the year.

The failure, which was expected, came after pleas by some Democrats on the Senate floor.

"What will it take to end this war?" asked Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois. "How many lives? How many limbs? How many broken families? How many innocent victims? The Senate has an opportunity with this next vote to start to bring this war to an end and to start to bring our soldiers home in an orderly responsible way." Video Watch Durbin's speech on the Senate floor »

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, slammed Democrats for an "inability to accomplish anything here in the Senate."

Talking to reporters after the votes, McConnell said, "The message ought to be clear: We ought to get the troops the funding they need to finish the mission without restrictions and without a surrender date."

The Democratic legislation had no mandatory deadline for withdrawing all troops from Iraq. Instead, the bill set December 15, 2008, as a goal for when all U.S. troops would be out of Iraq.

"[There were] very minimal accountability provisions in this bill, and even at that [President Bush] sneered and said no," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

Reid added that with $800 billion, "Shouldn't there be some minimal accountability? That's all we're asking. So I say the president and his enablers in Congress are so afraid of being held accountable for this disastrous war policy that they would rather leave our men and women in uniform empty-handed than work to change course in Iraq."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that the Pentagon faces a variety of "undesirable options," including up to 100,000 layoffs at military bases unless Congress passes a new war spending bill without conditions.

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But Reid said Friday, "We met with Secretary Gates. ... He said the Army is going to be just fine until the end of February, the Marines OK until the middle of March. And he meets with the White House and suddenly says, 'I'm going to start laying off the union employees.' "

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said, "The American people want us to work together as Republicans and Democrats. ... We need to sit down and put the American people first." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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