By The Hill Staff - 02/05/07 12:00 AM EST
Only two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Norm Coleman (Minn.), crossed party lines.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the 49-47 vote, which fell short of the required 60-vote majority, was not about avoiding the issue.
"There is not a single Republican senator seeking to avoid this debate," he said prior to the vote. Instead, McConnell argued the vote was on ensuring that the process was fair.
The GOP majority is calling for votes on two of its own amendments, one from Sen. McCain (Ariz.) and the other from Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), on Iraq.
The majority of Democrats, and several Republicans, support a resolution sponsored by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) that rejects President Bush's plan to add more troops to Iraq.
But Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Democrats had been trying to accommodate the GOP requests, pointing out that he would allow up and down votes on all three resolutions.
All of the resolutions would be non-binding, but some in the administration and Republicans in Congress have said passing the Warner measure would help the enemy and hurt morale of U.S. troops.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) strongly rejected that assertion, saying, "Congressional debate over Iraq policy doesn't embolden the enemy."
Instead, Levin said, the enemy is emboldened by the ongoing presence of a large U.S. force in an Islamic country and by the lack of a plan on what would happen following the invasion.
Even strong GOP supporters of the Warner resolution, including Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Warner himself, voted against the motion to proceed.
Hagel said he is confident that McConnell and Reid will work out a compromise that will allow votes on the resolutions.
Reid vowed to bring up the issue again, possibly in the form of amendments to a continuing resolution or the supplemental spending bill that will fund the war in Iraq.