The exclusive club called the U.S. Senate has 100 members. This week 94 of
them ducked and ran before a pre-arranged voice vote gave President Bush the $87.5
billion war check he wanted.
The six senators who had the guts to stay around
to voice a vote:
• Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
• Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I.
• Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii
• Harry Reid, D-Nev.
• Ted Stevens,
Among the six, Byrd shouted a loud "No!" The other five voted "Yes."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is an admired acquaintance of mine.
Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., is a longtime respected friend. But both
were wrong in agreeing to the cowardly voice vote so senators didn't have to go
on record on the controversial bill.
Republicans who favored it were afraid
constituents might think the price is too high. Democrats against it feared being
By contrast, the House earlier put its members on record
when it approved the bill 298 to 121.
In the "debate" before the Senate voice
vote in an almost empty chamber, Stevens, the longest-serving Republican, carried
the ball for Bush. "We will not walk away from Iraq," Stevens pledged.
the longest-serving Democrat, argued: "This $87 billion ... provides the wherewithal
for the United States to stay the course in Iraq when what we badly need is a
course correction. The president owes the American people an exit strategy for
Iraq, and it is time for him to deliver."
Polls show we're split about 50-50
on Bush's handling of Iraq. But 100% of us should shame those 94 senators who
were afraid to be counted on one of the most important and controversial bills
to come before this Congress.
© Copyright 2003 USA TODAY