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Kennedy: Americans Deserve An Up Or Down Vote On Changing Course In Iraq


Location: Washington, DC


We should have an up or down vote on the Levin amendment.

The American people have spoken. They want us to end this war. They want to know where each of us stands. It's time to vote.

This is a blatant abuse of the filibuster. We all know what's going on.

Republicans don't want to see their names supporting the vote tally sheet in support of the President's reckless and misguided war.

They don't want to see their names on the tally sheet of an up or down vote, and they don't want to see their names on a tally sheet on a vote to end their filibuster. So they're delaying these votes as long as possible.

The Senate rules do protect the minority. But rarely are they used to delay and delay and delay even more. The minority is abusing the rules by seeking an endless delay to prevent these issues from coming to a vote.

It's irresponsible to abdicate our responsibility on this issue. It's an insult to our soldiers and does not serve our national security. Let's stop the delay and have the vote.

Republican filibusters cannot stop progress on this issue any more than they stopped progress on other issues that consumed our nation in past years.

Civil Rights Act of 1964
In 1964, the Senate debated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 57 working days, including six Saturdays. Finally, on June 10, the Senate ended the filibuster by a vote of 71-29, and the legislation was approved.

Equal Employment Opportunity -- 1972
In 1972, the Senate considered legislation to provide enforcement powers for the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. This was one of the unfinished issues of the Civil Rights debate from nearly a decade before. After a 23-day filibuster and three votes to end the debate and vote on the issue, the Senate approved the legislation.

Rights of Institutionalized Act -- 1980
In 1980, the Senate considered legislation to protect the rights of persons confined in state institutions. The conference report was filibustered in the Senate for 8 days, with four attempts to end the debate. Finally, on the fourth try, the filibuster was ended.

Fair Housing Amendments -- 1980
The Fair Housing Amendments, which contained the enforcement provisions largely absent from the original law, came to the Senate floor during the lame duck session of 1980. The bill was filibustered by Republicans for six days, and Democrats fell six votes short of ending the debate. Although similar legislation was introduced in each subsequent Congress, the bill was blocked largely Republican Congresses until 1988, when the Democrats were back in charge in the Senate.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday -- 1983
In 1983, the Senate considered legislation to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King. It was filibustered by Republicans for four days. The debate was bitter and emotional, but eventually, the legislation prevailed.

Civil Rights Restoration Act -- 1984
In 1984, the Senate considered legislation to prohibit discrimination against women in colleges following the Supreme Court's decision in Grove City v. Bell. The bill was filibustered by Republicans, but eventually it was enacted in 1988.

Anti-Apartheid Act of 1985
In 1985, legislation to impose sanctions on South Africa was filibustered for three days. Although similar legislation was filibustered for 12 days the following year, it became law.

Family and Medical Leave Act - 1988
In 1988, the Family and Medical Leave Act was brought to the Senate floor, and was filibustered for 9 days. It passed in 1990 and 1991, but was vetoed both times by President Bush, and Congress was unable to override the vetoes. We made it the first order of business in 1993 with Bill Clinton in the White House, and it was promptly signed into law.

The filibuster did not stop the march of progress on any of these important issues, and it will not prevent Democrats from making progress in enacting a phased and orderly timetable for the redeployment of our troops from Iraq. We will continue to press this issue because it is right for our soldiers, right for our national security, and right for America's respect in the world.

I urge my colleagues to vote to end the debate on the Levin-Reed amendment. It's time to vote, so the American people will know where each of us stands.

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