In a rare Saturday session, Democratic and Republican party senators gathered for a fourth straight day to debate whether to move to a vote a symbolic resolution criticizing President Bush's plan to send nearly 22,000 more U.S. combat troops to Iraq.
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a similiar non-binding measure. Senate Democrats and some Republicans were hoping to bring their bipartisan resolution to a vote, but failed, winning only 56 of the 60 required votes.
The measure had full support from Democrats, but only seven Republicans broke party ranks to vote "yes." It is the second time they have tried and failed to overcome a procedural obstacle to vote on the nonbinding resolution.
At a press conference following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Democrats would not try again.
"There are lots of things we can look at other than this surge. This is over with, we are going to go on to other things."
Opponents of the measure said they had no problem with debating the war, but they blocked voting on this resolution to protest the democratic leadership's decision not to allow a competing resolution they offered about war funding to be brought to a vote. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham:
"The reason we are here on a Saturday playing these stupid political games, while people are off over in Iraq trying to win this war, is because our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are afraid to take a vote on cutting off funding."
But Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia, a sponsor of the resolution criticizing the troop increase plan and one of seven Republicans to support it, said it expressed disagreement with the president only over whether the troops should be used to diffuse Iraq's internal conflict.
"We have the right to respectfully disagree. And we do so in our language. We support the president on the diplomatic aspects of his plan; we support the president on the economic aspects of his plan announced on the 10th of January. We only disagree with one portion of it. Mr. President, do you need 21,500 additional men and women of the armed forces in this conflict?"
The American public is growing impatient with the war, with 63 % of people surveyed in a recent poll saying they oppose Mr. Bush's decision to deploy more troops to Iraq.