updated 9/20/2007 4:21:53 PM ET 2007-09-20T20:21:53

The Senate blocked legislation Thursday that would have cut off money for combat in Iraq by June. It was a predictable defeat for Democrats struggling to pass less divisive anti-war measures.

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The 28-70 vote was 32 short of the 60 needed to cut off a GOP filibuster. The legislation, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Russ Feingold, was indicative of the Democratic leadership’s new hardline strategy.

Unable to attract enough Republican support on less contentious proposals, Reid has sought votes on strong anti-war measures intended to force a withdrawal of troops.

The outcome was not a surprise. In May, the Senate rejected a similar proposal by Reid and Feingold by a 29-67 vote, with most Democrats saying they did not support using money to force an end to the war because that approach could hurt the troops.

Voting for the measure were Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. A fourth candidate, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., did not vote.

Democrats now have united behind a proposal that would order an end to combat within nine months. But that measure, by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich, also was expected to fail because Republicans said they opposed setting a timetable.

“They want this war more than they want to protect our soldiers,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters. “When I say they want the war, they want to protect their president more than they want to protect our troops.”

Earlier, the Senate voted 72-25 to condemn an advertisement by the liberal anti-war group MoveOn.org that accused the top U.S. military commander in Iraq of betrayal.

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