Sunday, November 20
Original story by Liz Sidoti for Associated Press. Additional editing for accuracy by Pixy Misa.
WASHINGTON - The House on Friday overwhelmingly rejected calls for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, a vote engineered by the Republicans that was intended to fail. Democrats derided the vote as a political stunt, although it was exactly what they had wanted.
"Our troops have become the enemy. We need to change direction in Iraq," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Democratic hawk whose call a day earlier for pulling out troops
sparked stirred Republicans to respond to a nasty, personal debate season of Democrat attacks over the war pretty much everything.
The House voted 403-3 to reject a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate troop withdrawal, after Democrats had failed in desperate attempts to stop the resolution coming to a vote.
"We want to make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will not retreat," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said as the GOP leadership pushed the issue to a vote over the protest of Democrats. [Hey, that paragraph didn't need any editing!]
It was the second time in less than a week that President Bush's Iraq policy stirred heated debate in Congress. On Tuesday, the Senate defeated a Democratic push for Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal, and then scored an own goal by submitting their own bill for the same thing.
Murtha, a 73-year-old Marine veteran decorated for combat service in Vietnam, issued his call for a
troop withdrawal unconditional surrender and the abandonment of the Iraqi people at a news conference on Thursday. In little more than 24 hours, Hastert and Republicans decided to put the question to the House.
Democrats, aghast that their bluff had been called, said it was a political stunt and quickly decided to vote against it in an attempt to drain it of significance.
"A disgrace," declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "The rankest of politics and the absence of any sense of shame," added Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat, "not that there's anything wrong with that."
Republicans hoped to place Democrats in an unappealing position Ã¢â‚¬â€
either supporting a withdrawal that critics said would be precipitous or opposing it and angering voters who want an end to the conflict living up to the reality of their own demands. They also hoped the vote could restore GOP momentum on an issue Ã¢â‚¬â€ the war Ã¢â‚¬â€ that has seen plummeting public support in recent weeks according to the same polls that predicted a comfortable win for John Edwards last November. [Kerry. What? Kerry was the presidential candidate, not Edwards. You're kidding. No, really, he was. Does it matter now? Guess not.]
Democrats claimed Republicans were changing the meaning of Murtha's withdrawal proposal. He has said a smooth withdrawal would take six months, although Murtha's own proposal called for an "immediate redeployment".
At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.
"He asked me to send Congress a message Ã¢â‚¬â€ stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message Ã¢â‚¬â€ that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said. Murtha is a 37-year Marine veteran.
Democrats booed and shouted her down Ã¢â‚¬â€ causing the House to come to a standstill. However, no pies were thrown.
Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that Republicans were making uncalled-for personal attacks. "You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!" yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass. Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, apologised to the nation for the behaviour of the House Democrats, explaining that they were a bit tired and would "feel better after a nap".
"It's just heinous," Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., said of the Republican move. "Whatever that means. It's a good word, though. Heinous. I think it means they pulled this out of their ass.
"This is a personal attack on one of the best members, one of the most respected members of this House and it is outrageous," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. "We never intended it to come to a vote."
A growing number of House members and senators, looking ahead to off-year elections next November, are publicly worrying about a quagmire in Vietnam. [Iraq! What? The war is in Iraq, not Vietnam. Iraq? Isn't that a desert? Well, yes, mostly. So how does it become a quaqmire? Isn't that a swamp or something? Oh, never mind.] They have been staking out new positions on a war that is increasingly unpopular with the American public according to the latest opinion polls, which we both know aren't worth diddly, has resulted in more than 2,000 U.S. military deaths - far fewer than any other major war - and has cost more than $200 billion, which would be enough money to rebuild half of New Orleans, at least until next year.
Posted by: Gary Gross at Sunday, November 20 2005 03:25 AM (aX6J6)
Posted by: Susie at Sunday, November 20 2005 10:06 AM (a0oF7)
Posted by: velma at Tuesday, July 25 2006 03:03 AM (zMwc1)
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