The US House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution
on Friday, after four days of debate, demonstrating the sharp
differences between the White House and the Democrats-controlled
Congress over the war in Iraq.
The resolution, analysts said, would produce far-reaching impact
on the Bush administration's Iraq policy.
Democrats, republicans differ on resolution
The resolution was passed with a vote of 246-182, with 229
Democrats and 17 Republicans supporting the legislation and 180
Republicans and two Democrats voting against it.
The resolution, introduced on Monday, said "Congress and the
American people will continue to support and protect the members of
the United States Armed Forces ... and Congress disapproves of the
decision of President George W. Bush announced on Jan. 10, 2007, to
deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to
Many Republicans against the resolution said Democrats rushed to
make their judgment without giving Bush's new Iraq policy,
including sending over 20,000 additional US troops to Iraq, a
chance to work. They argued that the passage of the resolution
would embolden enemies of the United States and damage American
soldiers fighting in Iraq.
"One side assumes we must defeat al Qaeda in Iraq; another side
asserts we can retreat from al Qaeda in Iraq," said Representative
Thaddeus McCotter, chairman of the House Republican Policy
"And one side believes the American people voted (in November
last year) to change course in Iraq to win; another side feels the
American people voted to change course in Iraq to lose," he
Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress in last year's
midterm elections, partly because of American voters' increasing
opposition to the Iraq war.
Democrats, on the other hand, criticized Bush's plan of more
troops to Iraq, calling it part of a deeply flawed strategy that
had stirred more violence in the Middle East and damaged the
country's image abroad. The war in Iraq, they said, was not part of
the battle against terrorism, but rather a distraction from it.
The Bush administration's Iraq campaign had been marked by
"mismanagement and misinformation," and that United States forces
had been given an impossible mission, to "find a military solution
to a political problem," said Representative Louise Slaughter, a
Democrat from New York.
The resolution "was a bipartisan nonbinding resolution that
should send a very clear and firm message to the president of the
United States that the American people spoke in November, that they
wanted a new direction in Iraq," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a
Democrat from California.
White house faces challenges from congress over
While the resolution was nonbinding had no practical, direct
effect on the administration's Iraq policy, both the White House
and Republicans in Congress have expressed concern that the
legislature might cut the funding for the war or put more
restrictions on how the money allocated for the Iraq war was to
Bush had calculated that the House would pass the measure, and
said passage of the resolution would not deter him from proceeding
with the deployment of another 21,500 troops to Iraq.
Shortly after the House passed the resolution, the White House
issued a statement saying that "the resolution is nonbinding. Soon,
Congress will have the opportunity to show its support for the
troops in Iraq by funding the supplemental appropriations request
the president has submitted."
"The President believes that the Congress should provide the
full funding and flexibility our Armed Forces need to succeed in
their mission to protect our country," it said.
House minority leader John Boehner said that while the
resolution was only symbolic, it charted "a very treacherous path"
that could lead to cutting off money for military operations in
Iraq. McCotter also warned that the resolution "will instigate
binding legislation to commence ... funding cuts" for the Iraq
Republicans' fear of possible funding cuts was no unfounded,
however. Jack Murtha, chairman of the House Defense Appropriations
Subcommittee, had announced he would introduce legislation that
would set strict conditions on combat deployments, which he said,
would make it impossible for Bush to maintain his planned
deployment of a total of about 160,000 troops for months on
Murtha said on Wednesday his plans for placing conditions on how
Bush could spend new war funding for Iraq this year would
effectively stop an American troop buildup.
Democrats had put forth six proposals to Bush, including
changing the US mission in Iraq, redeploying the troops, engaging
in diplomacy in the region, pushing for political reconciliation,
and refocusing on the war on terror, Pelosi said. "This resolution
today sets the stage for that new direction, one on which we will
focus on other than military initiatives," she said after the
passage of the resolution.
By passing the resolution, the House sent a strong signal to
Bush, analysts said. If the administration did not overhaul its
policy on Iraq, they said, there would be more disputes over Iraq
between the White House and Congress, and the administration would
face more challenges in implementing its policy on Iraq.
(Xinhua News Agency February 17, 2007)