‘Dwell time’ proposal dies, perhaps too easily

The “dwell time” amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., went down to defeat yesterday.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, had introduced the House companion bill to Webb’s amendment, H.R. 3159, which passed the House Aug. 2 on a 229-194 vote but has been stalled out since then in the Senate Armed Services Committee. It would require that any regular Armed Forces member or unit deployed to Iraq must then have an equal period of time at home before being redeployed, and that no unit or member of a Reserve component including the National Guard be redeployed to Iraq within three years of their previous deployment.

Here’s what Tauscher said today about yesterday’s vote:

tauscher2.jpg“It’s disappointing that Republican Senators are putting partisan obstructionism over the welfare and safety of our troops. When I authored this legislation in the House it was bi-partisan, passed by a solid majority and was built on enforcing the Pentagon’s own policy about troop rotations. These Senators had a choice to make, but instead of standing with our troops, they chose to stand with the President and his horribly flawed policies that have left our troops too little time to be rested and ready for their next rotation, and left our military too stretched to meet threats to our security elsewhere around the world.”

But Democrats could’ve done more to hold the GOP’s feet to the fire on this one, as Kagro X notes over at Daily Kos.

Yesterday’s vote saw 56 Senators (including all the chamber’s Democrats) voting for it with 44 opposed. Yes, it got more “yeas” than “nays,” but it needed 60 votes — not for a cloture vote to end a Republican filibuster, but because Senators had agreed by unanimous consent that the amendment should have to get 60 votes to pass, even without a filibuster.

In other words, no Democrat felt the need to actually force Republicans to engage in extended debate to filibuster this amendment – they all just agreed to set the bar for passage at 60 votes instead of 50, a quicker and quieter way of seeing it to its doom.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.