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Reid: Frustrated Dems will keep pushing for end to Iraq war

  • Story Highlights
  • GOP senators have blocked all Democratic-led pushes to bring troops home
  • By a wide margin, proposal to cut money off for the war was killed Thursday
  • Reid: "Majority of Congress wants to change the course of Iraq"
  • Senate approved a resolution condemning a controversial ad by
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From Dana Bash
CNN Washington Bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats are disappointed they have been unable to force President Bush to change course in Iraq, but they will keep pushing -- with or without Republican help, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.

Democrats will keep pushing to bring troops home from Iraq, Sen. Harry Reid said Thursday.

GOP senators have filibustered every Democratic-led push to bring troops home from Iraq. They used a procedural vote Wednesday to kill a proposal that would have required the Pentagon to give troops returning from Iraq stateside time equal to their time in the combat zone.

Six Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the plan, but the final vote was four short of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.

"They want to protect the president more than they want to protect our troops," said Reid, a Nevada Democrat.

And by a wide margin Thursday, senators killed a proposal by Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold to cut off money for the war. The vote was 70-28.

Many Democrats have said the November elections that brought them to power were a mandate to end the widely unpopular 4-year-old war with a U.S. death toll nearing 3,800. Reid said his caucus is disappointed and frustrated over the troop deployment vote, but insisted he would not support measures that do nothing to bring the conflict to an end.

"The majority of Congress wants to change the course of Iraq," he said. "This isn't a time to sit down and pat each other on the back and say, 'We worked something out that is bipartisan.' The only thing I'm going to agree on that is bipartisan is something that does something."

"It is very clear to the American people who supports President Bush's war," he said. "It appears that this is not only President Bush's war, it is the Republican senators' war."

Reid bristled at a question about whether Democrats are doing enough to find compromise with Republicans, saying, "I even called Larry Craig" to ask for his support on Wednesday's vote.

Craig, R-Idaho, has announced plans to resign from the Senate at the end of the month after pleading guilty to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from his arrest in a Minneapolis airport bathroom sex sting. But he has called his guilty plea a mistake, and is seeking to withdraw it.

Reid said he has called Republican senators' offices multiple times.

All 49 Democrats and one independent who caucuses with them -- Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- supported Wednesday's measure. The chamber's other independent, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman -- who also caucuses with Democrats -- voted with Republicans on the measure.

The Senate did succeed in approving a resolution condemning a controversial newspaper ad by anti-war activist group, which accused the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, of "cooking the books for the White House" in his testimony to Congress last week. The vote was 72-25.

"This amendment gives our colleagues a chance to distance themselves from these despicable tactics; distance themselves from the notion that some group literally has them on a leash, like a puppet on a string," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

Even then, Republicans managed to filibuster a Democratic proposal condemning GOP attacks on former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts during his 2004 presidential campaign.

"It's time to take a stand, not to dredge up political matters of the past -- but to condemn this ad," McConnell said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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