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House OKs Iraq troop withdrawal bill

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  • Greg Cannon
    The deadline for the nonbinding goal of completing the troop pull out is April Fool s Day!
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 25, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      The deadline for the "nonbinding goal of completing
      the troop pull out" is April Fool's Day!

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070426/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq;_ylt=Ar9jAAWKmyh3xGtW4oJ18Uis0NUE

      House OKs Iraq troop withdrawal bill

      By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer 9 minutes
      ago

      WASHINGTON - A sharply divided House brushed aside a
      veto threat Wednesday and passed legislation that
      would order President Bush to begin withdrawing troops
      from
      Iraq by Oct. 1.

      The 218-208 vote came as the top U.S. commander in
      Iraq told lawmakers the country remained gripped by
      violence but was showing some signs of improvement.

      Passage puts the bill on track to clear Congress by
      week's end and arrive on the president's desk in
      coming days as the first binding congressional
      challenge to Bush's handling of the conflict now in
      its fifth year.

      "Our troops are mired in a civil war with no clear
      enemy and no clear strategy for success," said House
      Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (news, bio, voting
      record).

      Republicans promised to stand squarely behind the
      president in rejecting what they called a "surrender
      date" handed to the enemy.

      "Al-Qaida will view this as the day the House of
      Representatives threw in the towel," said Rep. Jerry
      Lewis (news, bio, voting record) of California,
      ranking Republican on the House Appropriations
      Committee.

      The $124.2 billion bill would fund the war, among
      other things, but demand troop withdrawals begin on
      Oct. 1 or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet
      certain benchmarks. The bill sets a nonbinding goal of
      completing the troop pull out by April 1, 2008,
      allowing for forces conducting certain noncombat
      missions, such as attacking terrorist networks or
      training Iraqi forces, to remain.

      Two Republicans — Reps. Wayne Gilchrest (news, bio,
      voting record) of Maryland and Walter Jones (news,
      bio, voting record) of North Carolina — joined 216
      Democrats in passing the bill. Voting no were 195
      Republicans and 13 Democrats.

      House and Senate appropriators agreed to the
      legislation earlier this week. The Senate was expected
      to clear the measure Thursday, sending it to the
      president.

      While Bush was confident the bill would ultimately
      fail because Democrats lacked the two-thirds majority
      needed to override a veto, he kept up pressure on
      lawmakers. On the same day as the House vote, the
      president dispatched his Iraq commander, Gen. David
      Petraeus, and other senior defense officials to
      Capitol Hill to make his case: Additional forces
      recently sent to Iraq are yielding mixed results and
      the strategy needs more time to work.

      Petraeus told reporters sectarian killings in Baghdad
      were only a third of what they were in January, before
      Bush began sending in additional U.S. forces. He added
      that progress in the troubled western Anbar province
      was "breathtaking," and that he thought Iraqi Prime
      Minister Nouri al-Maliki was "doing his best" at
      leading the country.

      But "the ability of al-Qaida to conduct horrific,
      sensational attacks obviously has represented a
      setback and is an area in which we're focusing
      considerable attention," Petraeus said.

      Petraeus said he would not touch on the "minefield of
      discussions about various legislative proposals," but
      he noted that the new strategy in Iraq was just
      beginning. He said he planned to provide more details
      in early September.

      Petraeus briefed his findings to lawmakers in a
      private room, where protesters outside chanted "Troops
      home now!" Republicans and Democrats alike emerged to
      say Petraeus had only confirmed their positions.

      "This briefing reinforced our view that the solution
      in Iraq is a political solution," Hoyer, D-Md., told
      reporters. Also confirmed, he said, was "our belief
      that we must hold the Iraqis accountable for achieving
      real progress."

      Rep. John Boehner (news, bio, voting record) of Ohio,
      the House Republican leader, said Petraeus
      acknowledged there were challenges. "But considering
      where we are, I think the general feels good about the
      progress thus far," Boehner said.

      White House spokeswoman Dana Perino reiterated Bush's
      veto threat. In a statement issued after the vote,
      Perino said the House passed "disappointing
      legislation that insists on a surrender date,
      handcuffs our generals and contains billions of
      dollars in spending unrelated to the war."

      Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa.,
      said Democrats are still considering their next step.
      He said after Bush's veto, one option would be funding
      the war through September as Bush wants but setting
      benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet.

      "I think everything that passes will have some sort of
      condition (placed) on it," he said. Ultimately, Murtha
      added, the 2008 military budget considered by Congress
      in June "is where you'll see the real battle."

      Petraeus' comments Wednesday put a finer point on when
      the much-awaited decision about the length of the U.S.
      troop buildup may come, saying he will make an
      assessment of the conditions in Iraq in early
      September, and report back to Defense Secretary Robert
      Gates and other military leaders.

      Gates has said he expects the assessment this summer,
      but this is the first time military leaders said it
      would not be until September.

      ___

      The bill is H.R. 1591.
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