View Full Version : House debates Iraq war policy

02-13-07, 04:11 PM
House debates Iraq war policy

By Anne Flaherty - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Feb 13, 2007 16:47:10 EST

WASHINGTON — House members debated Iraq Tuesday in an emotional and historic faceoff over a conflict Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned as a commitment with “no end in sight.”

The long-awaited floor debate came with Democrats now as the majority party there, the war nearly four-years old and more than 3,100 American dead. In an issue the Democrats forced, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle argued about whether to publicly rebuke President Bush for deciding to send additional 21,500 more troops into battle.

“The American people have lost faith in President Bush’s course of action in Iraq and they are demanding a new direction,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat who became the first female House speaker after her party took control of both the House and Senate in the fall elections.

A resolution putting the House on record as against Bush’s expansion of troop strength was expected to be approved by week’s end. It was nonbinding, but nevertheless unmistakable in its message. “No more blank checks for President Bush on Iraq,” Pelosi declared.

Countered White House press secretary Tony Snow: “Members of the House and members of the Senate have the freedom to go ahead and write their resolutions, and do what they want with them. The one thing we do expect is, we do expect those who say they’re going to support the troops, to support them.”

Republicans, now the minority party on the Hill for the time in 12 years, issued impassioned warnings of the consequences of undermining the president’s policies in Iraq. “We will embolden terrorists in every corner in the world. We will give Iran free access to the Middle East,” said Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. “And who doesn’t believe the terrorists will just follow our troops home?”

Boehner teared up before reporters as he listened to Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, describe being a prisoner of war in Vietnam and learning of U.S. protests back home.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., insisted that they had no intention of impeding the mission of those in Iraq. “There will be no defunding of troops in the field. There will be no defunding which will cause any risk to the troops,” he told a news conference.

The House rejected, on a 227-197 vote, a Republican procedural attempt to force a vote on a proposal that would have barred Congress from cutting off funding for American troops in harm’s way.

Democrats expressed confidence the measure would prevail and said they would attempt to use it as the opening move in a campaign to pressure Bush to change course and end U.S. military involvement in the war.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave reporters evidence that the logjam in his chamber may have shifted. He told reporters he finds the House resolution “perfect” and planned Tuesday to begin the process of bringing it up for a vote in the Senate. “We support the troops, oppose the surge, perfect,” said the Nevada Democrat, summarizing the House resolution.

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell would likely oppose bringing up the House resolution unless Reid reversed course and also permitted a vote on a measure that says Congress should not force an end to the war by stripping its funding, according to McConnell’s spokesman.

In the House, Democrats called on several freshmen who served in the military to make their argument against further commitments in Iraq.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., a captain in the Army 82nd Airborne, said that “three years after I left Iraq, Americans are still running convoys up and down Ambush Alley and securing Iraqi street corners.”

But Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., stressed that “we go to war to win, we go to war with a mission.” He said “we dishonor the lives of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice if we in fact abandon that mission. .... We have a duty to pursue nothing less than victory.”

Republicans conceded that the measure was headed for approval and said a few dozen members of the GOP were likely to break ranks and vote for it.

It was the first debate about the war in either house of Congress since November’s midterm elections, when public opposition to the conflict helped power Democrats to control of the House and Senate.

Bush’s decision last month to deploy an additional 21,500 troops to help stop sectarian violence has quickly become a flashpoint for critics of the war in Congress. There are currently about 141,000 American troops in Iraq and 27,000 in Afghanistan.

The nonbinding measure states simply that the House “will continue to support and protect” troops serving in Iraq but that it “disapproves” of the troop buildup.

While such legislation can neither force Bush’s hand nor bring the war to a close, the vote could be a politically embarrassing rejection of his Iraq policy and help Democrats reassert congressional oversight of the war.

Each of the House’s 435 members and five delegates were being allotted five minutes to speak on the issue. Democratic leaders said Monday they planned to restrict members to a single vote by week’s end, barring any amendments or a GOP alternative — a tack Republican leaders decried as unfair.

“After promising to make this Congress the most open and honest in history, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi has effectively shut out both Republicans and Democrats from substantively debating the most important issue of our time,” said Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz.

Pelosi and other Democrats said restricting debate to one measure will force members to go on record on the war without hiding behind political ploys.

This week’s debate will be in sharp contrast to the one in 2002, which authorized Bush to use force if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein did not comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. That debate resulted in solid margins of support from Republicans and Democrats.

In October 2002, just over half of the public — 52 percent — approved of Bush’s handling of Iraq in Gallup polling. But Bush now faces a new political landscape. More than 3,100 U.S. troops have died and the justification for the invasion has been discredited with a majority of the public


02-14-07, 10:19 AM
Seems to me our "public servants" could make better use of their time. We already know these idiots hate the President and have no respect for the troops in harm's way. That's a given.
So, instead of wasting time slinging rhetoric back and forth, for a resolution that is non-binding...and therefore useless...why don't these pinheads work toward a genuine, workable solution to the problem of radical terrorists, etc.????
Why??? Because they don't have a freakin' clue!!! That's why!