Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
Lawrence Jackson  /  AP
Senate efforts to get an up or down vote on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld retaining his job now appear unlikely to be even discussed.
updated 9/6/2006 12:39:38 PM ET 2006-09-06T16:39:38

An effort by Senate Democrats to force a vote on whether Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should stay on the job appeared to be fizzling out Wednesday. Republicans, calling the move a political stunt, promised to block an up-or-down vote on the measure and Democrats conceded there's not likely to be any vote whatsoever.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on Tuesday said Democrats were drafting a nonbinding resolution "that would express a loss of confidence in the Bush administration's Iraq policy, including a loss of confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld."

But Boxer acknowledged that the Rumsfeld resolution could be struck down on a point of order since it is not germane to the pending legislation, the Pentagon spending bill. A Democratic leadership aide speaking on condition of anonymity said Democrats would not challenge the point of order.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., repeatedly supported Rumsfeld as he made the rounds of news shows Wednesday morning. Frist's chief of staff, Eric Ueland promised Republicans would kill the resolution through the procedural move.

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"The American people want us to be safe and secure. They recognize it takes bold leadership," Frist said on NBC's "Today" show. "I strongly support Don Rumsfeld."

Majority rules
The GOP blocking tactics would prevent politically imperiled Republicans from having to vote to support the way President Bush and Rumsfeld have handled the war, which is increasingly unpopular with the public.

Some Republicans, such as John McCain, R-Ariz., have been sharply critical of Rumsfeld. And GOP candidates Tom Kean of New Jersey and Stephen Laffey of Rhode Island, who is giving Sen. Lincoln Chafee a very difficult race for renomination, have called for Rumsfeld's resignation.

The White House and Capitol Hill Republicans are framing the November elections as a referendum on which party would do a better job on fighting terrorism and otherwise protecting the country.

"We cannot send a message to our enemies, let alone to our allies, that we are not up to the struggle, wherever it may break out," Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said Wednesday. "The way to win the struggle is to win it."

Democrats are likely to have no more luck in forcing a vote on Rumsfeld in the House, where Republican leaders keep tight control over floor debate.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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