Friday, February 16, 2007

House Votes Today on Iraq Resolution

The U.S. House is set to vote today on a resolution opposing George Bush's plan to escalate American involvement in Iraq. Today's vote to say NO to escalation is a self-described "first step" by House Democrats towards bringing the troops home.

The WFP agrees that sending more of our troops into harm's way is wrong, and that our U.S. Representatives need to take this first step towards bringing our troops home.

More details are emerging on the next steps that House Democrats have planned to bring the troops home (read this post for background).
The powerful speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, said she will support money for US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan only if the Pentagon meets strict standards of rest, training and equipment for the soldiers.
. . .
"If we are going to support our troops, we should respect what is considered reasonable for them: their training, their equipment and their time at home," Pelosi said, according to the Post.

"What we're trying to say to the president is, you can't send people in who are not trained for urban warfare . . . who are not prepared to contend with an insurgency."

The all-volunteer US military is already stretched thin and unable to supply enough armored vehicles or body armor for all deployed soldiers, according to published reports.
. . .
Her remarks coincided with a similar statement Thursday by Representative John Murtha, a Pelosi ally and war critic.

Murtha, who heads a key budget subcommittee that can block funds to the military, said he wants the troops to spend at least one year at home between deployments, would end a program forcing soldiers to remain in the military after their contracts expired, and would make sure the soldiers are fully "combat ready" before heading into a war zone.
More on Murtha in this article:
Democrats say the votes are the first step toward forcing Bush to change course in a war that has killed more than 3,100 U.S. troops and lost favor with voters.

"This country needs a dramatic change of course in Iraq and it is the responsibility of this Congress to consummate that change," said Rep. John Murtha, who chairs the House panel that oversees military spending.

Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, is preparing legislation that would set strict conditions on combat deployments, including a year rest between combat tours; ultimately, the congressman says, his measure would make it impossible for Bush to maintain his planned deployment of a total of about 160,000 troops for months on end.
Finally, here's an online briefing by Rep. Murtha on what comes next:

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Peter H. said...

The WFP's e-mail message hits right at the most important point: nonbinding resolutions are not enough, Congress needs to bring the troops home.

Stopping Bush's escalation (a/k/a "the surge") would be a great step, but is also not enough. I'd urge the WFP's next message to specifically ask Representatives to vote no on any further funds for Bush's war-- as in Rep. Jim McGovern's bill, endorsed by the WFP, which would allow spending only to carry out a withdrawal.

Listen to the end of the Murtha video in today's WFP blog post, starting at 22:28, where he dances around this question. More pressure is needed on Congressional Democrats if we want to actually get our troops out of Iraq.

That said, the Congressional leadership deserves credit for their proposal to close the lawless prison at Guantanamo. Taking a clear-cut stand like this is not only the right thing to do, it's smarter politics in the long run than half-measures and equivocation.

Steve Perez said...

I think you've got the right balance. Congress deseres credit for starting to move to bring the troops home, but they need to limit the use of funds to protecting our troops' safety and bringing them home.