Democrats win Senate vote on Iraq withdrawal date

Senate Democrats Tuesday afternoon won a key vote that clears the way for setting a date by which most U.S. troops would be required to leave Iraq.

Democrats defeated by a vote of 50-48 the Republican effort to strip language from the $122 billion-dollar Iraq supplemental spending bill that would require most combat soldiers to leave Iraq within a year.

Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Gordon Smith (Ore.) voted with the Democrats. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) voted against the timetable, as did Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) an Independent who caucuses with Democrats.

The victory likely will be symbolic because the White House has announced that President Bush will veto the legislation.

Democrats were unsure if they would prevail until the end of the vote.

“We don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. “We won’t know until the vote’s over.”

Reid said the legislation is “supported by the vast majority of the American people.”

But presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the bill “should be named the State Certain for Surrender Act,” adding that “a second-year cadet at West Point will tell you if you announce to the enemy that you’re leaving, it’s a recipe for defeat.”

McCain called the provision “one of the most shameful things I’ve ever seen.”