WASHINGTON, DC- House Democrats voted Friday to continue paying for the war in Iraq but set deadlines for withdrawal.
The $124 billion spending bill eked by on a near party line vote of 218 to 212 with no "ayes" to spare.
Afterwards, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., — who voted against the war in 2002 — called it "one giant step" towards ending the war.
But Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., said the "emergency" spending bill was a "budget buster" because it contains more than $20 billion in "pork" spending. He also chided Democrats for setting deadlines for withdrawal and said they would have lost the Revolutionary War if they had controlled Congress when America was seeking independence.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who voted in favor of the war authorization five years ago, disputed Republican claims that the vote amounted to turning tail and leaving Iraq in the lurch.
"It will not even begin [withdrawal] until a year from now," he said before Friday's vote. "This is not any precipitous withdrawal."
In an unusual alliance, the liberal anti-war wing of the House Democratic caucus joined Republicans in opposing the bill.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who was against the war long before most Democrats turned against it, said the vote proves that the war now has a "momentum of its own."
"You cannot say you are for peace and vote to keep this war going," Kucinich implored his fellow Democrats. "If you want peace, stop funding the war."
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The war funding legislation is now on a likely collision course with the Senate, where Republicans have said they will filibuster any bill that "micromanages" the war by setting deadlines. If these timelines ultimately get out of Congress, they face an almost certain veto by President Bush.
"This bill has too much pork, too many conditions and an artificial timetable for withdrawal," Bush said Friday after the vote. "As I've made clear for weeks, I will veto it if it comes to my desk."
He also taunted Democratic leaders in the House by pointing out that "because the vote in the House was so close, it is clear that my veto would be sustained."
Under the House legislation, troops would be pulled out of Iraq by September 2008. That was not soon enough for anti-war activists who heavily supported Democrats in the November elections, helping them win control of both chambers of Congress.
"We feel betrayed by Nancy Pelosi," said Medea Benjamin of the anti-war group CodePink, which organized a protest in Pelosi's office where its members tried playing a game of "pin-the-war-on-the-donkey."
"Today marks the day that Democrats bought George Bush's war,""she said as tears streamed down her face. "The Democrats are now as responsible as the Republicans for this war."
As the voting began, Capitol Police carted out of the chamber a protester in pink as she shouted, "Don't buy this war!"
Copyright 2007 Examiner