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House rebukes Bush on troop surge

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February 16, 2007

By DAVID ESPO

The Democratic-controlled House issued a symbolic rejection of President Bush’s decision to deploy more troops to Iraq on Friday, opening an epic confrontation between Congress and commander in chief over an unpopular war that has taken the lives of more than 3,100 U.S. troops.

The vote on the nonbinding measure was 246-182.

“The stakes in Iraq are too high to recycle proposals that have little prospect for success,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leader of Democrats who gained power last fall in elections framed by public opposition to the war.

“The passage of this legislation will signal a change in direction in Iraq that will end the fighting and bring our troops home,” Pelosi vowed after leading the House in a moment of silence as a sign of respect for those who are fighting and their families.

Citing recent comments by Democrats, Bush’s Republican allies said repeatedly the measure would lead to attempts to cut off funds for the troops. Outnumbered, they turned to Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas to close their case — and the former Vietnam prisoner of war stepped to the microphone as lawmakers in both parties rose to applaud his heroism.

“Now it’s time to stand up for my friends who did not make it home, and for those who fought and died in Iraq already,” he said. “We must not cut funding for our troops. We must stick by them,” he added, snapping off a salute as he completed his remarks to yet another ovation.

Bush made no comment on the developments, and his spokesman said the president was too busy to watch the proceedings on television.

After a secure videoconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Bush said the Iraqis reported providing troops to fight alongside Americans, making sure that no ethnic or religious factions are ignored in the security operations, providing $10 billion toward reconstruction and working on an oil revenue-sharing law.

“That’s good news for the Iraqi people. And it should give people here in the United States confidence that his government knows its responsibilities and is following through on those responsibilities,” he said.

More than 390 of 434 lawmakers spoke during four days of a dignified debate — an unusual amount of time devoted to what Republicans and Democrats alike said was the most significant issue confronting the country.

Supporters of the nonbinding resolution included 229 Democrats and 17 Republicans — fewer GOP defections than Democrats had hoped to get and the White House and its allies had feared. Two Democrats joined 180 Republicans in opposition.

Moving quickly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., set a test vote for Saturday on an identical measure, and several presidential contenders in both parties rearranged their weekend campaign schedules to be present.

Republican senators said in advance they would deny Democrats the 60 votes needed to advance the resolution, adding they would insist on equal treatment for a GOP-drafted alternative that opposes any reduction in funds for the troops.

Even so there were signs of Republican restlessness on the issue. Only two members of the GOP rank and file sided with Democrats on an earlier procedural vote; the total figured to be higher this time.

The developments unfolded as a new poll showed more than half those surveyed view the war as a hopeless cause.

A sizeable majority, 63 percent, opposes the decision to dispatch more troops, although support for Bush’s plan has risen in the past few weeks from 26 percent to 35 percent, according to the AP-Ipsos poll.

The House measure disapproves of Bush’s decision to increase troop strength, and pledges that Congress will “support and protect” the troops.

Bush has already said passage of the measure will not deter him from proceeding with the deployment of another 21,500 troops, designed primarily to quell sectarian violence in heavily populated Baghdad.

Already, troops of the Army’s 82nd Airborne have arrived in Iraq. Another brigade is in Kuwait, undergoing final training before proceeding to Iraq. Three more brigades are ticketed for the Baghdad area, one each in March, April and May.

In addition, the Pentagon is sending two Marine battalions to Anbar province in the western part of the country, the heart of the Sunni insurgency.

Bush and his allies in Congress calculated days ago that the House measure would pass, and increasingly have focused their energy on the next steps in the Democrats’ attempt to end U.S. participation in the war.

“I’m going to make it very clear to the members of Congress, starting now, that they need to fund our troops,” Bush said earlier this week, a reference to legislation that requests more than $93 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Democrats have made clear in recent days they will use Bush’s spending request to impose certain standards of readiness, training and rest for the troops.

“That stops the surge (in troops) for all intents and purposes, because … they cannot sustain the deployment,” Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said recently.

Republicans pointed to Murtha’s remarks repeatedly during the day as evidence that despite their claims to the contrary, Democrats intend to cut off funds for the troops.

“This is all part of their plan to eliminate funding for our troops that are in harm’s way. And we stand here as Republicans … committed to making sure our troops in harm’s way have all the funds and equipment they need to win this war in Iraq,” said Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

10 Responses to House rebukes Bush on troop surge

  1. Kent Shaw

    February 17, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    .

    I dream of the day when there are NO war veterans available to run for office because the last war was so long ago. Of course I’ll be long gone by then even if all wars stop today, but a guy can still dream can’t he?

    .

  2. JimZ

    February 17, 2007 at 12:06 am

    Rubber bullet

  3. skyguy

    February 16, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    Oh yeah, Congress. Way to go! Pass that NON-BINDING BS. That’ll show George not to mess with you.

    Now, if some of you good readers would kindly spend a small portion of your weekend contacting your respective Congress persons and DEMAND that somebody on that damn Hill ‘grow a set’ and start with active steps to begin IMPEACHMENT, maybe this country might be saved in time before we really do go down the crapper.

    Otherwise, OUR Congress is just going to continue to coast through the next 6 to 8 weeks while Bush ramps up the troop numbers on his mindlessly gleeful way into Tehran. And THAT really will be the ball game, folks!

    Stop reading…..get typing!!!!

  4. KayInMaine

    February 17, 2007 at 1:16 am

    Almost all the soldiers have died under republican control. Did the republicans call for a new plan during the four years they were in charge? Did the republicans want to talk about Iraq on the floor? Did the republicans do any oversight to see where American’s money was going? Did the republicans even care or did they want to ignore it because they know all the troops surges that have occurred over the years have resulted in more violence and more deaths? Huh?

    Bush got a well deserved swift kick in the ass today. Seventeen republicans voted along with the democrats. Consider them Patriots. Those who voted against this or who did not vote voted to stay the course over the cliff! Idiots.

  5. KayInMaine

    February 17, 2007 at 1:19 am

    Do the democrats in the Senate have enough republican senators to band with them to impeach Bush? No!!!! Sucks, but that’s the reality. Hell, the republicans in the Senate last week couldn’t even vote to debate Iraq, so to think they’ll vote to impeach Bush is ridiculous and is not going to happen. Dammit.

  6. [...] Capital Hill Blue: The Democratic-controlled House issued a symbolic rejection of President Bush’s decision to [...]

  7. Carl Nemo

    February 17, 2007 at 4:36 am

    “Outnumbered, they turned to Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas to close their case — and the former Vietnam prisoner of war stepped to the microphone as lawmakers in both parties rose to applaud his heroism.”

    Notice how “republicrats” hedge their bet by standing and applauding this guy as if they don’t stand they’l be tagged as unpatriotic and their constituents won’t let them stay in D.C. for the umpty-ump time…! Most if not all the “clappers” have done nothing for their country except help spend it into oblivion. I would be more impressed with the man or woman that would not stand and clap like a toady sychophant. They did this same nonsense at Bushco’s “state of onion” address…?! Truly a disgusting display of sucking-up!

    Concerning house member Sam Johnson Tex-R. I’m amazed that a man who spent 7 years in the Hanoi Hilton hasn’t seen the “light” after 30+ years of the cessation of hostilities in SE Asia. He’s evidently not a researcher, reader, nor curious when it comes to inner workings of government and it’s ways concerning world hegemony via the ever-reaching tentacles of the M.I. Complex and it’s useage of the CIA, NSA, DIA, or whatever other agency that serves it’s purpose and all for the benefit of the shadowy oligarchs who are relentlessly carving up the planet into enterprise zones. For Johnson to support this Iraqi debacle all started on “cooked” intelligence is tragic. In a way, his stay in the Hanoi Hilton is pre-payment for his current sin of mindless, give-a-care complency concerning our bogus involvement in Iraq. If the Republicans were smart they’d drop their partisan b.s. and act like true Americans for a change and join hands with the Dems to stop this criminal, zero-sum carnage in Iraq. If they shut down Bushco they may have a chance to redeem themselves and prevent relegating themselves to the ashbin of political history for the next 50+ years. They worked hard to gain control of the House and the Senate 10+ years ago and they blew it by letting crazies hijack their party. They seem to be “spring-loaded” in the stupid position!

  8. Sandy Price

    February 17, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Well said, Carl Nemo! I can add nothing to your words.

  9. gene

    February 17, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    It may be just political bullshit but it seems to be moving forward. Even if something is done about that idiot president and his moron VP cheney this country is still in a world of hurt. The next few months/days should continue to be interesting. So much is at stake (globallly) and at home that its sad to seen so many of my friends clueless, braindead and so on. Excellent post above.

  10. JimZ

    February 17, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    The Republicans are seemingly heading their trainwreck on the same track as the Whigs 160 or so years ago.

    Seems appropriate since what became the Republican Party was part of the Whigs.

    It seems hard to believe that revered “war heroes” from wars past don’t seem to make honest legislators, like Duke Cunningham, etc. They don’t always make good presidents, either, like Ulysses S. Grant. I know there’s exceptions, but the mold is starting to show.

    We seriously need to start thinking about electing more nerds and dorks into office instead of “war heroes”. We got enough of them. Perhaps we won’t be at war all the time, and our culture won’t be so fixated on WAR.