Levin, Stabenow vote for Iraq troop withdrawal

WASHINGTON (AP) Michigan Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow voted in favor of a failed U.S. Senate proposal for the nation to begin withdrawing military forces from Iraq within 120 days, with the goal of a total pullout by March 2008.

The measure set no fixed deadline for completion of the redeployment, but set a goal of March 31, 2008. The vote Thursday was 50-48 against the measure, 12 short of the 60 needed for passage.

Senate Democrats promptly said they would try again to force a change in President Bush's policy beginning this week when they begin work on legislation providing money for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The American people, and especially our troops in the field, deserve real leadership when it comes to the war in Iraq," Stabenow said in a news release. "I support this resolution because we need to make the tough choices necessary to bring our men and women in uniform home safely.

"Only the Iraqis can secure Iraq, and American troops can no longer be seen as a substitute for Iraqi political will."

In a statement on the Senate floor Thursday, Levin said: "We must change course if there is any hope of success in Iraq. The best leverage we have is the presence and mission of American forces. As long as our presence is open-ended, the dynamic in Iraq will remain the same."

The House voted 347-73 on Thursday to limit no-bid federal contracts in reaction to reported abuses and huge losses in contracts for Katrina recovery and Iraq reconstruction.

The Accountability in Contracting Act was the last of five open government bills the House passed under new Democratic leaders critical of what they called the closed and secretive nature of the Bush administration.

Michigan Democrats John Conyers of Detroit, John Dingell of Dearborn, Dale Kildee of Flint, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Detroit, Sander Levin of Royal Oak and Bart Stupak of Menominee voted for the measure.

Also voting yes were Republicans Dave Camp of Midland, Vernon Ehlers of Grand Rapids, Pete Hoekstra of Holland, Joe Knollenberg of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township, Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia, Candice Miller of Macomb County's Harrison Township, Mike Rogers of Brighton and Fred Upton of St. Joseph.

Republican Tim Walberg of Tipton was the only Michigan representative voting against the measure.

On Wednesday, the House voted 331-94 to pass a bill to strengthen protection for government whistle-blowers. All six Michigan Democrats and Republicans Camp, Ehlers, Miller and Upton voted for it. Hoekstra, Knollenberg, Rogers and Walberg voted against, while McCotter did not vote.