House Rejects Immediate Iraq Withdrawal, 403-3
The House voted 403-3 against a resolution that would have brought American troops out of Iraq immediately.
The Republican-controlled House spurned calls for an immediate pullout of troops from Iraq in a vote hastily arranged by the GOP that Democrats vociferously denounced as politically motivated. “To cut and run would invite terrorism into our backyards, and no one wants to see troops fighting terrorism on American soil,” Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Friday night after the House, as planned, rejected a GOP-written resolution for immediate withdrawal.
The vote, held as lawmakers rushed toward a two-week Thanksgiving break, was 403-3.
Democrats accused Republicans of orchestrating a political stunt that prohibited thoughtful debate on the issue, and nearly all voted against the measure. That included Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the Democratic hawk whose call Thursday for pulling out troops set off a nasty, personal debate over the war. “Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on our present course,” Murtha said. He said the GOP resolution was not the thoughtful approach he had suggested to bring the troops safely home in six months.
While there’s not much doubt that this was a political stunt on the part of the House leadership, the measure was only slightly less idiotic than Murtha’s “thoughtful” plan (which was itself a political stunt).
The bottom line is that, regardless of whether the war in Iraq was a good policy, the United States has committed itself. Setting a strict timetable for leaving that does not take into account political developments, even with a token reaction force posted nearby, and then claiming that we are somehow going to solve the problem through “diplomacy” is irresponsible. If conditions on the ground in six months allow a phased withdrawal to begin, that would be great. If not, then we will have to press on. Allowing al Qaeda to run us out before accomplishing the mission would be a defeat from which we would not soon recover.
Three Democrats, Jose Serrano of New York, Robert Wexler of Florida and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, voted for withdrawal. Six voted present: Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington; Jerrold Nadler, Maurice Hinchey and Major Owens of New York; Michael Capuano of Massachusetts and William Lacy Clay of Missouri.
If nothing else, the resolution served to identify the lunatic fringe.