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House rejects timetable for Iraq

The nonbinding resolution forces lawmakers to take a position four months before midterm elections.

Compiled from Times wires
Published June 17, 2006


WASHINGTON - The House on Friday rejected a timetable for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq, culminating a fiercely partisan debate between Republicans and Democrats feeling the public's apprehension about war and the onrushing midterm campaign season.

In a 256-153 vote, the GOP-led House approved a nonbinding resolution that praises U.S. troops, labels the Iraq war part of the larger global fight against terrorism and says an "arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of troops is not in the national interest.

The nonbinding but politically significant resolution was approved with just three Republicans voting against it and 42 Democrats voting for it.

"Retreat is not an option in Iraq," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. "Achieving victory is our only option, for the American people and our kids."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California called for a new direction in the conflict. "Stay the course? I don't think so Mr. President. It's time to face the facts," she said. "The war in Iraq has been a mistake. I say, a grotesque mistake."

Such comments were dismissed by Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the House majority whip, who said U.S. resolve "is being tested by clever enemies" and must remain firm.

"This war is not a war of choice, but one initiated and sustained by the actions of terrorists," he said. "In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorists have chosen to make a stand."

Four months before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress, House Republicans forced Democrats to take a position on the conflict that began with the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in the spring of 2003.

Democrats said the debate and vote were politically motivated, and several leading Democrats joined Pelosi in saying they would vote against the measure because, they said, supporting it would affirm what they called Bush's "failed policy" in Iraq.

Balking carried a risk for Democrats. Democrats' "no" votes will leave them at risk of criticism that they don't support U.S. troops. On Friday, in fact, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign followed the vote by saying Reps. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Harold Ford, D-Tenn., had voted to "cut and run in Iraq." Brown is running for the Senate in Ohio, and Ford is seeking a Senate seat from Tennessee.

Republicans and Democrats alike explained the decision, as each side saw it, that voters have to make in November.

"The choice for the American people is clear; don't run in the face of danger, victory will be our exit strategy," Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said.

Said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.: "It's not a matter of stay the course. It's a matter of change direction."

Information from the Associated Press, New York Times and Washington Post was used in this report.

HOW THEY VOTED

How west-central Florida representatives voted on Friday's nonbinding resolution that rejects setting a timetable for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq, labels the Iraq war part of the global fight against terrorism and praises American troops. A "yes'' vote is a vote to approve the resolution. The bill passed by a 256-153 vote.Republicans:Michael Bilirakis, Y; Ginny Brown-Waite, Y; Katherine Harris, Y; Adam Putnam, Y; C.W. Bill Young, Y.Democrats: Jim Davis, N.