For the past three days, the House of Representatives has overwhelmingly spoken out against President Bush’s plan to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq. Today, it will vote on a resolution that condemns Bush’s escalation plan, while voicing support for U.S. troops in Iraq. “We want a very straightforward, clear answer to the question: ‘Do you support the president’s escalation?'” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). The resolution not only has strong bipartisan backing in Congress, but 63 percent of the public also disapproves of sending more troops to Iraq. The Senate will take up similar legislation today.
- The resolution on the House floor expresses support for our armed forces and disapproval of President Bush’s escalation plan. For the past three days, each of the 435 members in the House has had five minutes to speak on the Iraq war. The debate focused around a resolution that expresses support for the “United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq,” but disapproval “of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.” Lawmakers, analysts, and the media expect the measure to pass with strong bipartisan support. Almost all Democrats will likely vote for the measure, along with anywhere from 12–60 Republicans. Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL), one of the members who has said he will vote for the resolution, said, “I approached this decision with a great deal of angst and humility. I’m not trying to micromanage this war….But I have listened to what our country’s most well-respected four-star generals have to say about this matter, and generals [John] Abizaid, [Barry] McCaffrey, and Colin Powell have all said that sending more troops into Baghdad now is not the answer.”
- There is another way forward in Iraq besides escalation. Critics have repeatedly charged that the resolution is a “slow-bleed” plan that will undercut the troops. But a new plan that Murtha plans to introduce next month will both cut off funding for escalation and provide increased support to the military, ensuring that the president doesn’t have a blank check for the war. His proposal would put four conditions on Bush’s war funds through Sept. 30: “The Pentagon would have to certify that troops being sent to Iraq are ‘fully combat ready’ with training and equipment; troops must have at least one year at home between combat deployments; combat assignments could not be extended beyond one year; a ‘stop-loss’ program forcing soldiers to extend their enlistment periods would be prohibited.” “We’re trying to force redeployment [of troops outside Iraq], not by taking money away, but by redirecting it,” said Murtha. Pelosi added her support to the bill, stating, “If we are going to support our troops, we should respect what is considered reasonable for them: their training, their equipment, and their time at home….What we’re trying to say to the president is, you can’t send people in who are not trained for urban warfare…who are not prepared to contend with an insurgency.” Recent reports by government agencies and military officials charge that the military does not have the capability to support Bush’s escalation. An audit by the Pentagon’s Inspector General showed that U.S. soldiers have had to go without the necessary weapons, armor, vehicles, and equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army and Marine Corps “are short thousands of vehicles, armor kits, and other equipment needed to supply” the extra 21,500 troops President Bush plans to send to Iraq.
- Across the country, states are pushing forward with their own resolutions on the Bush plan. State legislatures around the country are “pushing forward with their own resolutions.” On Monday, California’s Senate “became the first state legislative body in the nation to oppose President Bush’s plan to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq, passing a resolution Monday urging Congress and Bush not to escalate U.S. involvement in the war.” Legislatures in Vermont and Iowa also passed similar resolutions this week. “The Maryland General Assembly sent a letter to its Congressional delegation, signed by a majority of the State Senate and close to a majority of the House, urging opposition to the increase in troops in Iraq. Letters or resolutions are being drafted in at least 19 other states.” Find out what is happening in your state at the Progressive States Network.