View Full Version : House Passes "Symbolic Resolution" That "Disapproves" Of Troop Increase

02-17-2007, 10:12 AM
U.S. House Democrats approves measure criticizing Bush’s Iraq policy


(Gold9472: Which means nothing.)

Sheldon Alberts, CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, February 16, 2007

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday rebuked President George W. Bush over his decision to send 21,500 more American troops to Iraq, setting the stage for a potential showdown over funding for the planned military surge.

In a 246-182 vote, the Democratic-controlled House passed a symbolic resolution that "disapproves" of the troop increase, marking the first time in almost four years Congress has directly challenged the White House’s handling of the war. Seventeen Republican lawmakers broke with the White House — a reflection of growing unease with Bush’s own party — to side with the Democrats.

"This is the first vote in a four-year war that rejected the policy," said Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic House caucus. "And nothing more symbolizes that we’ve gone from a rubber-stamp to a different type of Congress and a new direction than what happened (Friday)."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bipartisan vote "should send a very clear and firm message" to Bush that Congress wants a new direction in Iraq.

The House resolution stressed "Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect" U.S. troops currently fighting in Iraq.

But over three days of emotional debate, White House supporters accused Democrats and GOP defectors of hurting U.S. troop morale and aiding American enemies.

"One can only imagine with horror how many Islamic radicals will be inspired to continue the fight after this House resolves that it supports our troops, but not the mission we ask them to perform," said Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican deputy whip.

Following the Iraq vote, there were immediate signals Democrats will next seek to prevent Bush from completing the troop surge announced last month.

Although thousands of new U.S. troops are already pouring into Baghdad — including the Army’s 82nd Airborne division — most are slated to arrive over the next three months.

To block that deployment, a senior Democratic lawmaker said he hopes to restrict parts of a $100 billion emergency military funding request.

Rep. John Murtha, a war opponent who chairs the House appropriations defence subcommittee, said Democrats would not approve the funding if it meant extending the tours of American troops already in Iraq.

"That stops the surge, for all intents and purposes," Murtha said. "They know they can’t sustain the surge if these restrictions pass the House and Senate. The president can always veto it, but then he won’t have any money."

Rep. Roy Blunt, the Republican minority whip, called Murtha’s plan "the first step toward pulling the rug out from under our troops in the field."

The Democrats’ "slow bleed" of funding for troops would ultimately produce a "spiral toward defeat" in Iraq, Blunt said.

Democrats, however, say their main purpose in imposing conditions on Bush’s funding request is to make sure troops sent to Iraq are properly rested, trained and equipped. Among the options Democrats are considering is to reject any spending that would result in troops being redeployed to Iraq without at least a year back in the U.S. to rest.

"The surge will force the administration to send many of our troops back into Iraq with less than one year at home ... This is a disservice to those who have served," Murtha said.

White House press secretary Tony Snow, in a statement reacting to the House vote, warned against any attempt to restrict funds, saying U.S. troops are "counting on" the money.

"The president believes that the Congress should provide the full funding and flexibility our armed forces need to succeed," Snow said.

The House denunciation came as Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reported dramatic security improvements in Baghdad as several brigades of Iraqi and American troops began deploying throughout the city.

Speaking to Bush from Baghdad, Maliki said the early stages of Operation Secure Baghdad had been a "brilliant success," with coalition forces advancing largely unopposed.

Bush said the Iraqi government was meeting benchmarks "to move Iraqi troops into the city of Baghdad" and seemed set to confront militias regardless of their sectarian loyalties. However, the American military commander in Baghdad warned the decrease in violence by sectarian militias was likely only temporary as enemy fighters assess the joint U.S.-Iraqi crackdown.

"There’s no question about it, that many of these extremists are laying low and watching to see what it is we do and how we do it. How long that will last, we don’t know," Major-General Joseph Fil, told reporters in Washington via videoconference. "We do expect there are going to be some very rough, difficult days ahead."

The next congressional challenge to Bush may come as early as Saturday.

Senate Democrats said they planned a weekend test vote on a resolution identical to the measure passed by the House.