The House opens a marathon three-day debate today on a resolution opposing
President Bush's decision to send 21,500 more combat troops to Iraq, a measure
leaders of both parties agree is just the first step in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's
bid to sharply alter the administration's war policy.
The simple resolution, consisting of one long sentence, says Congress "will continue to support and protect'' the U.S. troops in Iraq, but
disapproves of Bush's move to deploy more troops in what he admits is a
last-ditch effort to help the Iraqi government restore order in Baghdad.
| Text of the House Iraq resolution:
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), that --
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on Jan. 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.
Source: Associated Press
Republican House leaders attack the resolution, which mirrors a bipartisan
measure bottled up in the Senate, as an empty political stunt. They say that if
Democrats had political courage, they would cut off funds for the war, a step
Pelosi has said they won't take.
Nonetheless, the Republicans plan a full-court press to oppose the
resolution they know could resonate with an American public that polls show is
deeply disillusioned about the president and his war policy.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., is a co-sponsor of the resolution. Estimates of
the number of Republicans who will vote for it, signaling that they oppose
their president's policy, range from 15 to 60.
With an edge of 233-202 seats, Democrats are sure to pass the resolution
when the vote comes sometime Friday. Democratic leaders said all 435 House
members, plus five delegates from territories and the District of Columbia,
will receive five minutes each to state their views on the resolution, Bush's
strategy for the troop increase and the war itself.
House leaders expect the debate, going late into the night, to continue
through Thursday. The leadership of both parties has offered members talking
points and big charts and graphs they can use as visual aids when they appear
on the House floor live before C-SPAN's cameras. It will be the biggest debate
on the war since the October 2002 resolution that authorized Bush to use force
to oust Saddam Hussein.
Pelosi might open the debate this morning for the Democrats, her spokesman
Brendan Daly said Monday, and Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio will kick
things off for the Republicans.
"We'll focus on certain themes,'' Daly said. "Escalation won't work. Our
military leaders think that. And Iraq requires a political settlement.
"We will talk about the poor management of the war, the lives lost, the
money wasted and our loss of respect around the world.''
Minority Republicans enter the debate angry that Democrats will deny them
the chance to offer an alternative to the leadership resolution that is
sponsored by Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, who chairs the Foreign Affairs
Committee, Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and Jones, an
increasingly outspoken GOP war opponent.
Boehner had indicated that he hoped the House would be able to vote on
legislation offered by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, saying that Congress would
never cut off funds for a military operation as long as U.S. forces are in the
field. Boehner has also proposed creating a bipartisan congressional panel to
monitor how Bush's latest buildup is working.
Republican opponents of the resolution will emphasize, as Boehner does,
that Iraq is a key front in the global war on terrorism and that victory is the
only strategy in Iraq. They will also claim that the resolution will weaken
U.S. troop morale.
Boehner also said he is sure that the nonbinding resolution is just the
first move planned by Pelosi. "This resolution is the first step in the
Democrats' plan to cut off funding for American troops who are in the field,
and their leaders have made this abundantly clear,'' he said.
Jones agreed somewhat, although he opposes cutting off funds. "This is the
first step to creating an end point to the war strategy. Our men and women have
done a magnificent job, but you have got to have a goal line in Iraq and I
don't think this administration has one.''
Pelosi used similar language, particularly to reassure anti-war members of
her Democratic caucus who are pushing vigorously for more action.
"This will only be the first step,'' the San Francisco Democrat said.
Next up for Pelosi is the president's $100 billion supplemental spending
bill for the war, which is now being considered by the military appropriations
committee headed by Rep. John Murtha, a decorated veteran and strong supporter
of the military who adamantly opposes the president's war policy.
By March, Murtha said he plans to attach numerous conditions to the war
money, such as a measure saying that no unit can be deployed to Iraq until it
is fully equipped with all the latest armor and other measures designed at
neutralizing roadside bombs.
"I will make recommendations in the bill that hopefully will change the
direction of the war,'' Murtha said last week.
On the House floor Monday, a few Republicans previewed their line of
attack during the three-day debate. "This resolution has already been drafted
and put in final form. We won't be allowed to amend it,'' said Rep. Darrell
Issa, R-Vista (San Diego County). "Democracy and debate won't change anything.
The vote at the end of the week will be the same as at the beginning.''
Democratic leaders, especially Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., had
last week promised the Republicans they would get to offer an alternative
resolution. Hoyer had also originally said that the resolution would go first
to a joint Foreign Affairs-Armed Services Committee meeting for debate and a
But Hoyer apparently was overruled by Pelosi and other party leaders, so
the committee idea was dropped and the House seems all but certain to vote up
or down on the single resolution without a GOP alternative.
On Sunday, on NBC's "Meet the Press,'' Hoyer explained the switch.
"We believe the American public wants a straightforward answer to the
question, 'Do you agree with the president's proposal?'
"A Republican president has made a proposal, we're going to respond to
that, and we want to respond to it with great clarity.''
© Copyright 2007 San Francisco Chronicle