DECEMBER 13, 1995
SEN. BILL FRIST, (R) Tennessee: In the case of Bosnia, the Congress and the people are not even given the opportunity to approve or disapprove but simply to give our approval and commitment and comment after the fact.
KWAME HOLMAN: Even with some U.S. troops already on their way to Bosnia, Congress wants its position on the mission stated on the record. Today, the Senate gave itself three options to choose from: A resolution proposed by Senators Dole and McCain reluctantly supporting the mission; a mission by Senators Hutchison and Imhofe opposing the mission but supporting the troops; and a third resolution by House Republican Joel Hefley, cutting off all funds for U.S. troops in Bosnia. The Senate took up that option first today and rejected it overwhelmingly.
SPOKESMAN: The ayes are 22. The nays are 77, and the bill fails to pass.
KWAME HOLMAN: Twenty-one of the twenty-two Senators favoring a cutoff of funds were Republicans, Phil Gramm of Texas among them.
SEN. PHIL GRAMM, (R) Texas: I submit that there is no evidence to substantiate the belief that we have a vital national interest at stake, that our intervention can be decisive in promoting that interest, and I am very concerned that unless we are very fortunate, indeed, that the outcome of this intervention might simply be to add American names to the casualty list but not to end the tragedy that we all want to see ended.
KWAME HOLMAN: But recalling the many votes he cast to sustain troop funding during the War in Vietnam, Majority Leader Robert Dole successfully called on his colleagues to reject the proposal to eliminate funds for the Bosnia mission.
SEN. ROBERT DOLE, Majority Leader: While I understand opposition and disagreement with the President's decision to send American ground forces to Bosnia, I believe that action to cut off funds for this deployment is wrong. It is wrong because it makes our brave young men and women bear the brunt of a decision made not by them but by the commander in chief. Cutting off funds, as I said, in all the debates I've engaged in, these are only the records of my votes between 1969 and 1973, it never seemed appropriate for me when you had young men like John McCain, a prisoner of war, that we could cut off funds in the United States Congress. And I still have that same attitude today.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, Senate Democrats remained generally supportive of the President's decision to send troops to Bosnia.
SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN, (D) New York: We have a profound interest in a world with a measure of order, a measure of predictability, and capacity to enforce it to some measure at least.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D) California: In the war that I well remember that got me into politics, the Vietnam War, we said give peace a chance in those days. And I think give peace a chance has not lost its meaning in this circumstance.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, (D) Connecticut: When we speak of defining moments in history, post Cold War, this decision will stand alongside the decision in the Gulf War as turning points, as markers, as to where we would go, and the extent to which the forces of Western civilization, particularly regarding Europe, would join together to stop conflict and deter war.
KWAME HOLMAN: But it appears the position of most members falls somewhere in-between reluctant support and formal opposition, the position supported by Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, (R) Texas: There are many of us who do not think this is the right mission but who are going to go full force to support our troops. In fact, we believe we are supporting our troops in the most effective way by opposing this mission because we think it is the wrong one. The mission in Vietnam was certainly controversial, but the people of this country loved and revered the people who went to Vietnam from our armed forces and fought there for our country. So I don't think there is any question whatsoever that you cannot support a mission and support the troops fully.
KWAME HOLMAN: Debate on Bosnia continues this evening in both the Senate and the House, with votes expected late tonight, but reportedly, President Clinton already is very satisfied with the earlier Senate vote not to cut funds for troops sent to Bosnia, saying he can accept either of the other two Senate resolutions, neither of which is legally binding.