A rare round-the-clock session is on the cards for the US Senate, as the Democrats try to force through legislation aimed at an early withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Beds have been made up in the building itself, where voting was expected to continue throughout the night.
The goal of the marathon debate is to test the Republican resolve over the bill said the leader of the Senate’s Democrats, Harry Reid:
“Now Republicans are using a filibuster to block us from even voting on an amendment which could bring this war to a responsible end. They are protecting our President rather than protecting our troops.”
Republican Senator John McCain, denounced the debate as a stunt:
“Should the Congress force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, it would mark a new beginning, the start of a new, more dangerous and more arduous effort to contain the forces unleashed by our disengagement.”
What Washington is really losing sleep over is the spiralling and bloody violence in Iraq.
Suicide attacks like those in Kirkuk at the weekend, in which dozens died and more were injured, are fuelling calls for the US to pull out of Iraq.
With a Senate test vote set for later today, the Democrats admit they are likely to get 52 or 53 votes at most.
That is well short of the 60 needed to force a final vote on the measure.