Senate Democratic leaders said they are unsure if they will have the votes next week to pass a supplemental war spending bill now that House and Senate conferees have decided to eliminate a provision barring the release of detainee abuse photos.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) indicated that Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — along with much of the GOP Conference — would have a hard time holding up the bill for very long, given the need to get the money to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in the next couple of weeks.
“We can’t drag this out much longer. The troops need this money,— said Reid. “So I’m confident at the end of the day the supplemental will pass. It has to pass for our troops.—
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) further hinted that President Barack Obama would likely step in to resolve the conflict, considering he supports Lieberman and Graham’s efforts to prevent the public disclosure of more photos of detainee abuse at the hands of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“There’s a limit to what we can accomplish here— in Congress, said Durbin, a close Obama ally. “The president has made his intentions clear, and I think he’ll follow through.—
Reid was more cryptic, saying, “Whatever happens in the conference committee, the pictures will not be released. ... There are many ways that can be accomplished.—
A federal court has already ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union should be granted access to the photos, some of which were released in 2004 amid a furor over detainee treatment at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. But the case is currently under appeal, and the Obama Justice Department is fighting to keep the photos secret because of fears that releasing them would incite violence against Americans in the Middle East.
Reid said the House would likely vote on the supplemental Monday or Tuesday with the Senate following the day after the House acts. Members of the conference committee on the nearly $100 billion measure will formally adopt their agreement Thursday.