Both Democrats, who are seeking a troop withdrawal, and Republicans, most of whom warn of the consequences of an immediate pullout, will question Petraeus and Crocker over what to expect in coming months, as J. Taylor Rushing reported in today's Hill.
Today's focus will also be on the presidential candidates. Sens. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Benghazi report fallout | Nearly 50 dead after Istanbul attack The Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds McChrystal backs McCain's Pentagon reform proposal MORE (R-Ariz.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) are on the Armed Services Committee, while Sen. Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump on NAFTA: Renegotiate or withdraw Reid: Rubio should be sued over missed votes Nigel Farage: Trump better for UK than Obama MORE is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Andy BarrAndy BarrHorse racing industry divided on need for federal oversight Lawmakers press for Christians to be included in ISIS genocide designation Rein in thoroughbred racing abuses MORE, Chris Good and Walter Alarkon will start liveblogging as soon as Petraeus and Crocker's testimony begins.
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6:54 p.m.: The Foreign Relations committee is wrapping up its hearing. Petraeus and Crocker are done with the Senate but will face two house committees tomorrow. As Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told Petraeus and Cocker "good luck."
Biden took one last shot at Crocker before adjourning, "no one thinks there is a diplomatic surge, no one, and we need to be surging."
That concludes the Briefing Room's coverage of the Petraeus-Crocker hearing. Check back at the Briefing Room for coverage of the Iraq debate and any other issue on Capitol Hill or the campaign trail. - A.B.
5:30 p.m.: Breaking from the slower question and answer pace conducted be previous Senators, Obama got through five exchanges with Petraeus and Crocker on topics ranging from al Qaeda in Iraq and increase Iranian influence. Obama attempted to get a clearer view of what Petraeus and Crocker would consider a "end game."
"If the definition for success is so high," Obama said "then that portends the possiblity of us staying for 20 or 30 years."
"If on the other hand we have a messy status quo" that does not "pose a threat," Obama asked "what is an achievable time frame?" - A.B.
5:23 p.m.: Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonAmbassador's sister: I don't blame Clinton for Benghazi Clinton to Trump supporters: 'Don’t look for easy answers' Seven key findings in the Benghazi report MORE supporter Sen. Bill NelsonBill NelsonCongress prepping short-term FAA bill Overnight Finance: McConnell tees up Puerto Rico vote | Britain's credit rating slashed | Clinton vows to appoint trade prosecutor McConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill MORE (D-Fla.) allowed Barack Obama to jump his place in line in order question Petraeus and Crocker ahead of Nelson because of an Obama scheduling issue. - A.B.
5:10 p.m.: Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerCalif. Dem missed votes, sit-in on trip to Spain Hispanic Caucus PAC looks to flex its muscles in 2016 Dems who sat out the sit-in offer array of reasons MORE's (D-Calif.) question for Petraeus was interrupted by a Code Pink protesters. When the protesters were not immediately silenced by capitol police Boxer yelled at the protesters to "hush up." - A.B.
4:40 p.m.: Talking about the Iranian Quds force, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) says the group's killing of coalition forces would normally be considered "an act of war." Coleman asked Petraeus what needs to be done to "send the message" that the actions were unacceptable.
Petraeus told Coleman his focus is on Iraq. - A.B.
3:10 p.m.: Ranking Member on the Foreign Relations Committee Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) says the "surge" has had "marginal" impact but that "Iraq will be an unstable country for the foreseeable future, and if some type of political settlement can be reached, it will be inherently fragile." - A.B.
2:49 p.m. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Healthcare: Blame game over Zika funding Biden: US 'preferred a different outcome' on Brexit Abortion is weakness for Clinton VP favorite MORE (D-Del.) opened his committee's hearing with concerns about troop readiness, cost, and lost focus on Afghanistan.
We must acknowledge, Biden said, what the president refuses to acknowledge: the "increasingly intolerable cost" of occupying Iraq.
Biden also cautioned that "the notion that we are in Iraq to stay" with permanent military bases "is a propaganda tool." -C.G.
1:53 p.m.: The last exchange of the hearing sums up the main themes of the morning
Petraeus reminded Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) said that Osama bin Laden and his deputy in al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, view Iraq as their central front in the war on terror. "That is where we must roll them back," said Petraeus, echoing Republican arguments for maintaining a U.S. combat presence in Iraq.
But when Petraeus reiterated his call for "conditions-based reductions," Bayh, like other Democrats, was skeptical.
"And we don't know when that will be?" Bayh said.
"When the conditions are met," the general responded.
Petraeus and Crocker now go over to the Foreign Relations Committee, where Chairman Joe Biden (D-Del) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) await. The hearing starts at 2:30 p.m. The liveblog will resume then.
1:40 p.m.: Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico McConnell tees up House Puerto Rico bill MORE (R-Texas) turned the discussion back to national security.
"Our troops not only want to know we appreciate them, their families and they want to understand how their sacrifice is directly connected with our safety and security here at home," Cornyn said. "Sometimes I think that gets lost in the debates on Capitol Hill. Traveling to Afghanistan, I of course was reminded of what happened in that failed state after the Soviet Union left."
Cornyn and other Republican supporters of the surge have used their questions today to stress the role of the surge in snuffing out al Qaeda in Iraq. -W.A.
12:49 p.m.: Clinton uses her time to get into the details of Petraeus