Senators Threaten Weeks-Long Blockade of Supplemental

Posted June 11, 2009 at 4:16pm

Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are prepared to block the supplemental war spending bill for weeks in order to force Congress to pass their measure barring the release of detainee abuse photos.

But the Senators told reporters Thursday that President Barack Obama could avoid a showdown if he issues an executive order keeping photos of detainee abuse at the hands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan out of the public eye by declaring them classified documents.

“We are committed to filibustering this bill,— Lieberman said.

Graham said the military would have enough money to fund war operations into July, but that he and Lieberman would keep up their effort in an attempt to get Obama or Congress to act before a federal appeals court considers whether to release the photos on July 8.

McCain castigated Obama for not weighing in more forcefully on the issue, particularly since he opposes the release of the photos.

“The president should be publicly speaking out now,— McCain said. “He’s been strangely quiet.—

Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who appeared with the three Senators at a press availability, said he couldn’t envision a scenario where Senate Democratic leaders would get the 60 votes necessary to pass the nearly $100 billion spending bill for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With two Democratic Senators sidelined with illnesses, Kyl indicated that Republicans were likely to band together to keep the measure from passing.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he’d like to bring the measure up for a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday.

A House-Senate conference committee on Thursday appeared poised to strip language inserted by Graham and Lieberman that have would barred the photos’ release for three years.