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Webb wants to put dwell-time rule into law

Dec. 1, 2008 - 04:34PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 1, 2008 - 04:34PM  |  
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Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., is not giving up on his so-far unsuccessful bid to guarantee in law that troops will get as much time at home as they spend deployed.

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Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., is not giving up on his so-far unsuccessful bid to guarantee in law that troops will get as much time at home as they spend deployed.

Although the services generally have a 1:1 ratio of time deployed to time at home since U.S. ground forces in Iraq have returned to pre-surge levels, Webb sees benefits to putting the so-called "dwell time" plan into law. "While current policy has taken it down to 1:1, the only way to ensure that is to codify it," said Webb spokeswoman Kimberly Hunter.

Webb plans to reintroduce legislation early next year, Hunter said, but has not decided when to press for a vote on what could be a key test of whether Democrats will have the support of at least a handful of moderate Republicans to push through legislation that was blocked earlier this year.

With two Senate races yet to be decided, Democrats have 58 votes if they get the support of the Senate's two independents, just two short of the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster and push legislation forward.

Webb's legislation, which has had bipartisan support, calls for active-duty troops to spend at least as much time at home as they spend deployed. National Guard and reserve members would have a promise of spending three times as long at home as they were deployed before they could be tapped again for an overseas assignment.

The majority of the Senate has supported Webb's idea, which is similar to legislation passed by the House of Representatives, but he not has been able to muster more than 56 of the 60 votes needed to cut off endless debate.

One of the chief cosponsors of Webb's dwell time legislation has been Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who, like Webb, is a Vietnam combat veteran. Hagel is retiring from the Senate, and will not be around next year to vote with Webb, but Democrats have picked up at least seven seats, with races in Georgia and Minnesota still to be decided.

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