Friday, February 16, 2007

Democratic Leader Gambles That Weekend Detention Could End Senate’s Squabbling on Iraq

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 — As the House prepared to pass a symbolic resolution denouncing President Bush’s war policy, Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday abruptly scheduled a weekend debate on Iraq in an effort to break a stalemate and avoid impressions that partisan bickering was weighing down deliberations over the war.

A steady line of Republicans and Democrats made their way to the House floor for a third straight day of debating Mr. Bush’s troop buildup plan before the matter comes to a vote Friday. The Senate, stung by its own failure so far to act, spent much of Thursday locked in a debate about debating until Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, called the rare Saturday session.

“We demand an up-or-down vote on the resolution the House is debating as we speak,” said Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “We’re determined to give our troops and the American people the debate they deserve.”

But when they convene Saturday afternoon, senators will not debate the Iraq resolution itself. Instead, they will be taking up a procedural vote required under Senate rules to move forward to the actual debate.

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