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The US House of Representatives on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to require President George W. Bush to tell Congress how he plans to eventually extricate US troops from Iraq.
Though the measure does not include the timetables for withdrawal that Bush has long resisted, it does require him to lay out how much contingency planning is being done for an eventual pull-back of American soldiers.
The bill, which passed by a vote of 377 to 46 after securing the support of lawmakers from Bush’s Republican Party, would not require the president to change his Iraq strategy.
The Democratic-led House has passed a sheaf of bills calling for a pull-back from Iraq, but without the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.
Democrats in the 100-seat Senate have been frustrated however, and have repeatedly failed to amass the 60 vote super-majority required to pass any bills on the war that would force Bush’s hand.
The battle between the White House and Congress on the president’s war plan is now set to occur around Bush’s 190 billion dollar emergency Iraq funding bill announced by the Pentagon last week.
Earlier several leading House Democratic lawmakers unveiled a scheme to raise taxes on Americans to pay for the war, in an apparent bid to further undercut the conflict.
“If this war is important enough to fight, then it ought to be important enough to pay for,” said David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
“By putting together this bill we hope people will stop ignoring what this war is costing American taxpayers and call the president’s bluff on fiscal responsibility.”
Some anti-war Democrats have complained that the costs of the war in blood and treasure are not being equally shared across the US population, and have called for a return of draft conscription or a war tax.
The House plan, which could involve a two-percent “surtax” on the poorest taxpayers, could rise to a 15 percent hit for the rich, has little chance of becoming law, as it is not backed by Democratic leaders.
“Those who oppose a tax and the draft also should oppose the President’s war,” said Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.
“Just as I have opposed the war from the outset, I am opposed to a draft and I am opposed to a war surtax.”
According to a report by independent Congressional Research Office in July, the United States has shelled out well over half a trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and running costs have hit 12 billion dollars a month.