Vacations? During a war?

Lawmakers divided over whether to keep U.S. troops in Iraq are finding common ground on at least one topic: They are furious that Iraqi politicians are considering a lengthy break this summer.

"If they go off on vacation for two months while our troops fight — that would be the outrage of outrages," said Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn.

The Iraq parliament’s recess, starting this July, would likely come without Baghdad politicians reaching agreements considered key to easing sectarian tensions. Examples include regulating distribution of the country’s oil wealth and reversing measures that have excluded many Sunnis from jobs and government positions because of Baath party membership.

Talk of the adjournment comes amid a heated debate in Congress on the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.

President Bush this week vetoed $124.2 billion legislation ordering troops to begin leaving Oct. 1. Failing on Wednesday to gain a two-thirds majority needed to override the veto, Democrats were expected to begin negotiations Thursday with top White House aides on the next step.

Numerous possible compromises are being floated on Capitol Hill, all involving some combination of benchmarks. The key impasse, however, is whether to require redeployments of U.S. troops if the benchmarks are not met.

Democrats contend that initiating troop withdrawals will pressure Iraqis into making the necessary political compromises. Republicans say the Iraqis could still refuse to work together and the consequence would be a blood bath.

The only area of agreement between the two sides is that the Iraqis are testing their patience.

"That is not acceptable," Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said of a two-month recess. "An action of that consequence would send a very bad signal to the world that they don’t have the resolve that matches the resolve of the brave troops that are fighting in the battle today."

Added Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb: "I certainly hope they’re not going to take any sort of recess when the question is whether they’re going to make any progress."

Republicans and Democrats themselves remain gridlocked on how far to go to force Bush’s hand on the war. When asked about progress made on bipartisan cooperation in Congress, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., declared to reporters Wednesday there had been "discussions about talking" but nothing more.

Congress leaves for four weeks each August and takes a week off, sometimes more, around prominent holidays. Lawmakers frequently adjourn for the August recess without reaching agreements on important legislation.

However, sectarian violence continues to rage in Iraq. In one particularly devastating attack, a bomb struck the Sadriyah market last month, killing more than 120 people and wounding more than 140 more.

More than 3,350 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. April was the deadliest month for the military this year.

The violence in Iraq and lack of structure in the new government are partly to blame for the slow political progress. For example, getting a quorum among Iraqi politicians can be difficult because a number of top Sunni legislators do not spend much time in Baghdad due to security reasons. Parliament leaders are also still struggling to impose party discipline among their rank-and-file members.

The Iraqis have been able to reach consensus in some areas, but not necessarily ones that would calm sectarian violence.

On Monday — the same day Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., issued a statement urging the Iraqi politicians to reconsider their summer break — the Iraqi parliament called for a ban on U.S. troops near a holy Shiite Muslim shrine. Protests were led by the radical anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc after U.S. and Iraqi troops conducted a raid near the shrine.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. Sandy Price

    Our house and senate just returned from their yearly spring break. Bush goes into seclusion at his ranch all the time. Nobody is taking the loss of American lives seriously.

  2. Razor

    Politicians are not the ones facing death every day. They go home to thier loved ones at the end of the day and set down for a relaxing evening. No death, no blood, no stench for them. The Iraqi leaders are the same. They live in luxury with security and comfort. How difficult is it to do whats needed to make the government work? Our purpose was to free the people of a tyrant. We did that and now they have a government capable of reform, but obviously they are no different than american politicians, all talk and no resolve.

    There is no purpose for America anymore in Iraq and we should just leave them to thier own method of rule. Enough is enough. But Bush has other reasons for staying and that is oil and profits for his cronies. The death of american troops is just part of the cost of business. The death of 3350 soldiers is nothing to the scumbag decider.

  3. Carl Nemo

    “If they go off on vacation for two months while our troops fight — that would be the outrage of outrages,” said Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn.

    I’m providing the link for the House Roll Call Vote results for HR1591. I pulled it up and ran the list and sure enough ol’ Chris is one the faithful Republicans that evidently think this war is a “real war” instead of a shakedown of the American taxpayer until the 12th of never. Evidently going to war based on “cooked” intelligence isn’t all that important to him and many others. Probably if I asked him such, he’d say… dang, dude… ain’t war about makin’ money and all ? 😐

    Representative Shays comes from Connecticut one of the original 13 colonies with a fine tradition of “knowing” what true patriotism is all about…no?! But he along with many other republicans and sympathizers such as Joe Lieberman feel that pitching U.S. debt dollars down an Iraqi rathole is a fine example of nation-building etc.

    Now their duty puppets in the Maliki government, including Maliki himself want to be able to enjoy their ill-gotten lucre too by jetting off to Dubai or to Red Sea “party islands” so they can blow it out their butts. Besides life is short and I guess the Iraqi’s would know so better than anyone.

    I suggest people scour this roll call list thoroughly and start making your lenghty “short-list” as to who’s going to get the boot in the next election. Anyone and I mean anyone that voted to continue this Iraqi criminal enterprise is a traitor to the Constitution and the Republic for which it stands.

    I’ll also provide the duty link so folks can acquire the contact numbers and email addresses of their reps.

  4. Doubtom

    If I can possibly swing these Republicans back toward reality for a bit, the invasion of Iraq was the worst possible message we could send to the world. They have no business criticizing anyone else’s lack of judgement when they’ve apparently suspended their own in agreeing to attack a country which was no threat to us in any way, including the use of nuclear weapons.

    Saddam had many faults as does anyone in the limelight but he wasn’t insane. He certainly wasn’t foolish enough to ever attack the United States even if he did have nuclear weapons. He was at least smart enough to realized that his entire nation would have been glassed over if he had. Why did our smart Senators/Representatives ever buy that argument anyway? Even The Soviets, with their ample arsenal of weapons thought better than to attack the United States.
    On this basis alone, these idiots in office should be replaced.
    The argument that Saddam wasn’t a threat with nuclear weapons but “could” have sold them to radical jihadists if and when he ever manufactured them, is also silly; we already have a few nations who do possess these weapons and who are antagonistic towards the United States in varying degrees.
    We are not well served by Senators and Representatives who can be so easily frightened into becoming an incoherent bunch of babbling idiots with such foolish scenarios. It is time for a few of you to retire. You’re not equal to the demands of the office.

  5. Steve Horn

    Give the Iraqi government two months off – fine by me. But let the Iraqi government know that we’re going to give our troops, contractors, mercenaries, NGO representatives and their funding a couple months off as well – at the same time.

  6. geyser

    Okay, they’re not kidding. Someone tell them to look out their window to see bullets going by and dead bodies in the street. If they’re not sure what it means, someone tell them, the war is still going on.
    I realize not everything is the same between the West and Middle east but, it seems if there is a war going on in your country, taking a long vacation while the fighting is going on, usually it is not a very good idea.
    Doing so sort of casts a doubt just how commited they are to resolving conflicts and ending the bloodshed. Now, if there are other countries involved giving support with Troops, Equipment, and Money, those countries just might get a bit testy and say something.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  7. VietnamVet

    Why should we be surprised? They are just in tune with their so call “trained military” personnel. On any given day, a significant percentage of the Iraqi military forces are no shows (polite for AWOLS), they can just quit when they want, refuse to serve outside of their home districts, etc., etc. With that kind of discipline, who really believes that the Iraqi military will eventually stand up and protect the government? By the way, the only thing protecting the Iraqi government now are the walls around the green zone where they hide out!