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.

Lawmakers Reject Immediate Iraq Withdrawal (AP)

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.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Iraq War, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. odograph says:

    The true absurdity of this is that the administration and its critics are both preparing withdrawal plans. The disagreements are over relatively short time frames, and relatively small differences in the definition of withdrawal (whether to leave a few troops in secure bases away from population centers).

    As I understand it, Rep. Murtha’s actual proposal was for troops “to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date,” and his redeployment might have allowed those secure bases. Laughably, some Republicans immediately “interpreted” that plan to mean “withdraw everybody, immediately” and called for a vote.

    Murhta’s Plan:

    News on the Administration Plan:

    The truly sad thing about the last few days has been that our top levels of government have been acting like a bunch of on-line teenagers arguing Mac vs. PC.

    I guess Mac vs. PC was the same way though. Even as the two supported more and more common standards, and became more alike, proponents of one could still go off in an emotional rant demonizing one but not the other.

  2. odograph says:

    P.S. – I don’t know if you had a chance to listen to that audio I pointed to yesterday, but even the counter-insurgency guy (who thinks it could be won … in 10 years) predicts that Bush will bail before the 2006 elections.

    I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you “stay the course” guys go on record now, and say if 2006 is:

    1. Staying the course
    2. The earliest date practicable
    3. Cutting and running

    Personally I’ve got this feeling that the modern meaning of “cut and run” is “the other guy’s plan.”


  3. James Joyner says:

    Odo: We should certainly be planning withdrawal scenarios. But Murtha’s was in the context of an emotional speech about how the mission had been accomplished and there was nothing more we could do in Iraq.

    I haven’t the slightest idea whether we can get out in 2006. My sense is not. I hope we can start drawing down our force level very soon, though, as Iraqi forces are trained to replace them. Unfortunately, that’s going much more slowly than it reasonably should for a variety of cultural reasons I only partly understand.

    If we leave Iraq a bloody mess in order to take it off the table for the 2006 elections, it’ll be cutting and running regardless of who’s in charge.

  4. Herb says:

    Well, Well, Well,

    The Dems with all their ranting about pulling out, setting timetables, and running the Reps into the ground about the war, has backfired right in their faces. This definitely shows that all the Dems rehtoric has been purely political and designed to gain political points for themselves.

    If the Dems truly thought that the war was “giong badly” and that we were in a “Quagmire” and that “We were inciting more terrorists” to prolong the war, then this vote was their chance to vote their convictions. The 403 to 3 vote tells everyone that the Dems do not have the courage to vote their true convictions or that all their slamming the administrations policy on the war was how they truly thought or was just “Political rehtoric”.

    The amusing thing about this vote is that it shows that guys like Ken, Odo, and Anjin, who have been verbalizing here on OTB, have had it put to them by their favotite liberal buddies, The Dems. What will these three guys say now? It will be comicial to see how they will “Spin” this vote and explain to everyone here how their thought processes provided them with the knowledge to constantly hammar away at the Reps. and the Bush Administration about the war that they do not agree with.

    It’s very funny to see the Dems. cave in when the chips are down and their political futures are “on the Line”. They got it right with this vote, But then again, “Even a blind robin gets a worm now and then”

  5. odograph says:

    I view the core of his message to be about the feedback we create by being there. The question is whether we can kill the “bad guys” without building resentment among the “good guys.”

    I think his argument is, if you’ve really got to blow up a house (and at a minimum shatter all the windows on the street, and scare the poop out of everybody), do you want Americans to do that, or Iraqis? If we are doing it, we are building resentment, and making things worse with every house we blow up. The longer we stay the worse it gets.

    Exact timetables … I don’t know, but I think driving the transition makes it happen faster than wait and see.

  6. ken says:

    James, pride is no excuse for foolishness.

    The war on Iraq was lost the day it was launched.
    Americans will not indefinately support a war based upon lies. Without a cause that overrides concerns about our daily lives right here at home all the talk about ‘staying the course’ looks like foolish pride.

    Ford is laying off 4.000 workers, GM is cutting over 25.000 jobs, unemployment in the south has skyrocketed following the hurricanes. The middle class does not feel secure about their future. The nation is on the wrong track.

    Add to that a hysterical president ranting about how over half the nation is betraying him and it is no wonder Murtha and others are saying lets cut our losses on Iraq right now. He is just reflecting the will of the American people It is not worth a single more soldier nor another week of billion dollar borrowing from the Chinese.

  7. Herb says:


    What kind of car do you drive

    You seem to be toning down your usual Anti American rehtoric a bit or is that just your “SPIN” after having your buddies put it to you in the House.

    And again Ken: produce your evidense that Bush lied here on OTB, or shut your big mouth up.

  8. Was Maxine Waters there or out of town already on the first plane to Moonbatistan?

    You’d think Waters would have voted for such a thing.

  9. ken says:

    What kind of car do you drive

    A Ford. Buy one while you can. We are down to just two American car companies now. Neither one really builds a world class car but car buying decisions are never purely rational decisions. If they were Ford and GM would have been gone years ago.

    My point above can be summerized:

    1) The American people were decieved into supporting Bush’s war on Iraq.

    2) The American people will not support a war based upon lies indefinately.

    3) The American people have their own problems to deal with right here at home that overide any concern about Iraqi ‘freedom’. In short, no one really cares about what happens to Iraq as much as they care about what happens to themselves.

    4) Bush’s hysterical attacks on Democrats are taken by the majority of American people as attacks on them as well. His personal attacks on people for turning on him are evidence that he lacks good judgement and is perhaps bordering on insanity.

  10. Herb says:

    Lawrence Simon:

    It looks like quite a number od Democrats either “Flew the Coup” on this vote or just dodn’t have the courage or their convictions about the war. There were a lot of Dems. “Not Voting”. I Wonder why?.

    Whats funny is that even Murtha voted to “Keep the troops in Iraq”. Either his famous speach in the House a couple of days ago was “Political Regtoric” or he did not have the courage to vote his “Conscience”.

    Ken, Odo and Anjin:

    What are you going to say to everyone here if one of our cities is wiped off the map by a terrorist Nuke Bomb? I would bet every dime I have that you will blame it on Bush. That would be truly fitting to your style.

  11. odograph says:

    Come on Herb, you just want attention, don’ you …

  12. Herb says:


    At least you got ont thing right, you drive an American car. To bad you don’t have anything else right. And don’t ever forget 403 to 3.


    You are a hoot, can’t you think of anything else to say in answer to my question to you? I wonder what your next “Spin” will be, domestic issues, the economy, welfare,or immigration. You sure got the wind taken out of your sails with the House Vote. (403 to 3)

    I propose a contest for everyone, Where will Ken, Odo, and Anjin go now, what will they comment about?, what will they say?, how will they spin their views?, the person getting the correct answer on that will, will win a free lesson on “How to get things Right” (REP. that is) That sort of sounds like a soap opera doesn’t it. Of course featuring Ken, Odo and Anjin.

  13. ken says:

    What are you going to say to everyone here if one of our cities is wiped off the map by a terrorist Nuke Bomb? I would bet every dime I have that you will blame it on Bush. That would be truly fitting to your style.

    Perhaps you haven’t noticed Herb, but Bush is the one responsible for preventing that from happening. Russia has suitcase nukes. Clinton had a program to actually buy them in order for them not to be sold to terrorist. Bush stopped that program. Now we have no idea what actually happened to the rest of these nukes.

    Bush did however convince idiots like you to support his War on Iraq, a country that had no capability to threaten our security in any way imaginable.

    So yeah, if someone gets his hands on one of the suitcase nukes and uses it to blow up an American city I would blame Bush for this failure. Wouldn’t you?

  14. anjin-san says:

    One thing I will say for Bush, when he screws up, he really goes all out. When it became clear we could not “win” the Vietnam war, no matter how many Vietnamese we killed, we were basically able to split with our tails between our legs because Vietnam is not important geopolitically.

    Iraq however, is vitally important. Now we are faced with a hostile Iran, dominating Iraq and emerging as the middle east superpower. And since they have been hard at work on real, not phantom WMD, it is quite possible they will be in a position to tell us to piss off in a few years.

    And guess what, China is now a major market for oil.

    So what do we do? I do not pretend to have the answer. Stay in Iraq, our young men dying, bleeding national treasure that is badly needed at home? Split and hope for the best? Well Bush has accomplished one thing, Iraq is definitely a terrorist state NOW.

    We are really and truly F_____d. Thanks, GW.

  15. Herb says:


    You are a master at Hypocracy, Now it seems that you are depending on Bush to protect you from the terrorists. It also seems to me that there must be a lot of “idiots” for supporting the Iraq qar, Ken, in case you haven’t noticed, the House voted last night to “Keep the troops in Iraq” including one hell of a lot of Democrats. So, I guess that you are now saying that the Democrats are also “Idiots”.

    In the event, a Nuke were to be sent off in a US City, yes, I would put the blame where it should be put, but Ken, I would also put the blame on stupid people like you for your left handed support of the terrorists. You espouse every day your Hate for Bush and our country by lending support for terrorists with your hate talk that tears this country apart in order to fullfill your personal self fullfillment without regard for anyone else but yourself. Therefore Ken, you and your kind would be just as much to blame as anyone within our government. But, Ken I guess that is to much over your head for you to understand.

    For Clinton, 9/11 would never have happened if Clinton had done his job and taken OBL into custody when OBL was offered by the Sudanese. But I guess Your hero Clinton was to busy having a good time with Monica for him to giva a damn.

    No Ken, There may be some “Idiots” around, But fortunately, there aren’t as many “Stupid” people like you.

    How does if feel Ken when your Democrat buddies sold you down the river. Eat your heart out. (403 to 3)

  16. ken says:

    Iraq however, is vitally important. Now we are faced with a hostile Iran, dominating Iraq and emerging as the middle east superpower. And since they have been hard at work on real, not phantom WMD, it is quite possible they will be in a position to tell us to piss off in a few years.

    The region may be important but it is not of ultimate importance to us. Our main interest in that region is oil. The problem for those with the oil is that it is of no value to them if they do not sell it. It doesn’t matter to us, really, whether we buy it from a toady Saudi regime or a hostile sunni one.

    The worst that can happen is that they shut off the flow of oil for a while but economics being what it is eventually they will have to start selling again. They cannot just drink it.

    The disruption caused by a boycott of oil sellers is probably less damaging to our economy in the long run than would be the never ending war on Iraq envisioned by conservatives.

    A boycott we could adjust to and our economy would actually benefit from becoming less dependent upon middle eastern oil. The never ending war will just bleed us till we finally give up and the recovery will be much much harder.

  17. Herb says:


    I don’t know what to say, I am taken back with disbelief, Ken actually made a comment without his “every comment” statement that Bush Lied. Could it be that Ken has decided to cool his rehtoric down a bit now that the Dems have turned on him with their “keep the troops in Iraq: vote last night.

    Could it be that Ken “Has seen the light”?

    Could it be that Ken is losing the courage of his convictions like the Dems did last night?

    Could it be that Ken has been “spinning ” out of control and don’t know how to recover after the Dems. turned against him?

    Jeez, this is one for the books, Even Anjin has changed and now talking about oil. But after all, he has good reason, his Democrat anti war buddies have betreyed him. (403 to 3) Boy, that vote sure took the wind out of a lot of sails. What will they do? What will they do?

    Stay tuned for the next onslought of spin and anti war rehtoric when, if ever, they catch their breath.

  18. anjinSan says:

    One should not mistake the vote, which is just an acknowledgement that we have to somehow try and clean up the disaster Bush has created in Iraq, with “support of the war”.

    Tempting though it may be, for us to simply pack up and leave would be akin to a drunk driver walking away from a huge accident of his own making.

    We have to consider how to minimize the damage caused to our nation and its geopolitical interests by this insane war, as well as by the inept way it was run once it was undertaken.

  19. anjinSan says:

    Bush Rejects Iraq Withdrawl, Pentagon Plans One

    President Bush “swatted down calls in Congress for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying that American military leaders believe that retreat now would be ‘a recipe for disaster,'” the AP reports.

    Said Bush: “In Washington there are some who say that the sacrifice is too great, and they urged us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission. Those who are in the fight know better.”

    However, he must not be talking to his own military leaders: “Pentagon and U.S. military officials tell NBC News the plan calls for the substantial withdrawal of more than 60,000 troops from Iraq. The plan was drafted by Gen. John Abizaid and Gen. George Casey, the two top U.S. commanders of the war.”

  20. Patriot says:

    The Lions of Winter

    The Republican members of the House of Representatives may have created their own Waterloo yesterday. Forcing a vote on a Resolution for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, with out any formal committee process, evidenced a political stunt and disappointing display of immaturity for a serious matter facing the United States.

    They reacted, in my opinion, like frightened kids on the play ground, and not members of Congress with great powers and responsibilities under the war powers act. It was the old lions (Bill Young, John Murtha Curt Weldon) in the House who showed the way to debate and discuss, and left the little ones who can only fight by inflamed rhetoric and scare tactics looking like fools to the whole world. Read the transcript. (

    Their shallow and partisan attempt to back down Representative Murtha was a shameful display, and all who devised this outrageous behavior should be held accountable at the polls next year.

    The Republicans, may well have done what the Democrats have been unable to do, and nationalize the elections for the House and Senate in 2006. Only time will tell, but their behavior deserves our careful attention and rebuke at the polls next November.

    Don’t forget, during this same day, they voted major cuts in domestic programs, attempted to embarrass a major war hero/ distinguished member of Congress, and VOTED THEMSELVES A PAY RAISE. Quite a day. As the President told Brownie – – Speaker Hasterett (Denny, you’re doing a heck of a job).