Seeking political advantage, House Republicans want to put the chamber on record once again rejecting calls for a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq just weeks after the chamber voted against an immediate pullout. In what Democrats were calling a political stunt, House Republican leaders planned a vote as soon as Friday on a resolution that expresses a House commitment "to achieving victory in Iraq" and says setting such a timetable would be "fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory."
A vote would force Democrats to choose whether to support the resolution, and stand with Republicans, or oppose it, opening themselves up to criticism, on the eve of a congressional election year in which Iraq will be a focus, that they had rejected the notion of victory in Iraq.
The resolution "honors the tremendous sacrifices" of U.S. forces and praises Iraqis for voting in parliamentary elections Thursday. It says U.S. forces would be required in Iraq "only until Iraqi forces can stand up so our forces can stand down, and no longer than is required for that purpose."
"Setting an artificial timetable for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq, or immediately terminating their deployment in Iraq and redeploying them elsewhere in the region, is fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory in Iraq," the resolution says.
The House Republicans maneuvered for a vote in the face of Democratic calls for an immediate or eventual troop pullout, which have intensified since a prominent hawk, Democratic Rep. John Murtha, said last month it was time for U.S. troops to start coming home. Some Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have lined up behind him.
Seeking to kill momentum that was building behind Murtha's call for withdrawal, House Republicans forced a vote rejecting the immediate pullout of U.S. forces just before adjourning for Thanksgiving break. Democrats called the quick vote a political ploy that prevented thoughtful debate on Murtha's proposal, and almost all voted against withdrawal in what they said was a protest, reports the AP. N.U.
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