WASHINGTON - June 21 - Today, the House voted against leaving the door open to the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq during debate on the FY07 Defense Appropriations bill. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) applauded the bipartisan vote, calling it a vote against an open-ended occupation.
"This is a vote against an open-ended military mission in Iraq," said Lee. "I am glad to see my colleagues on the other side of the aisle recognize that the American people are against an open-ended occupation of Iraq, and voting to put the House on record in support of the idea that we should not be in Iraq indefinitely. I hope that the White House will not again weigh in behind the scenes to try to reverse this decision."
By a vote of 50 - 376, the House defeated an amendment introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to strip out a provision of the defense spending bill that would prevent funds from being used to establish permanent basing agreements with Iraq. The prohibition was added to the bill by Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) with the approval of the Appropriations Committee last week.
Lee cautioned that it would be important to make sure that the prohibition on bases was kept in the final bill, citing a recent episode where Republicans stripped a similar provision from a bill in conference committee.
Lee and Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) had successfully amended the Emergency War Supplemental appropriations bill to prevent funds from the bill from being spent to establish permanent bases in Iraq, but despite House and Senate approval, their provisions were stripped out by Republicans in conference committee.
Even Republicans spoke out against King's amendment. "It sends the wrong message," said Rep. Bill Young, Chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. "Not only to the people of Iraq, not only to the people of America, but to the people of other Muslim nation who might say, hey, are we next? Are we going to be occupied? Are we going to have American troops in our streets?"
Legislation Lee introduced in June, 2005 to prevent the establishment of permanent bases has the bipartisan support of 82 cosponsors.