US House Approves 2008 Iraq Pullout

In a mostly partisan 218-212 vote, the US House of Representatives has voted to impose a September 1, 2008, deadline for withdrawing all American troops from Iraq, prompting a quick veto threat from President George W. Bush.

US House Approves 2008 Iraq Pullout

In a mostly partisan 218-212 vote,the US House of Representatives has voted to impose a September 1, 2008,deadline for withdrawing all American troops from Iraq, prompting a quick veto threatfrom President George W. Bush, The New York Times reported Saturday,March 24.

"The American people have lost faith in thepresident's conduct of this war," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a CaliforniaDemocrat, told the House, bringing an end to a charged debate.

"The American people see the reality of thewar; the president does not."

The measure was approved as part of a $124 billionemergency war spending request to pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next sixmonths.

Two Republicans voted for the measure:Representative Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland, aformer Marine Corps officer who was wounded in Vietnam,and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina,who called for a withdrawal nearly two years ago.

Fourteen Democrats voted against the plan, witheight saying it did not end the war fast enough and six saying it was toorestrictive and could usurp the authority of the commander in chief, the Timessaid.

The bill is the most forceful measure on Iraq thatCongress has passed since the Democrats won control of Congress last year.

"This bill had to be very hard to voteagainst," said Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat."This took care of the troops. This took care of the families of thetroops."

At least 3,203 American, 133 British and 124 otherforeign soldiers have also died since the beginning of the US-led invasion onMarch 20, 2003.

Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the chairman of the Democratic Outof Iraq Caucus, said this war has proved futile.

"Everybody came to the conclusion that more ofthe same — of no change — was not a viable option," Emanuel said.

Veto Threat

Bush dismissed the action as "political theater"and promised to veto attempts to manage the war from Capitol Hill, the papersaid.

"They set rigid restrictions that would requirean army of lawyers to interpret. They set an arbitrary date for withdrawal withno regard for conditions on the ground. And they tacked on billions in petprojects that have nothing to do with winning the war on terror," Bushsaid.

Democrats had "voted to substitute theirjudgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq,"Bush added.

A two-thirds vote of each house of Congress would berequired to override the presidential veto that Bush has threatened.

Democratic leaders in both chambers have recentlyscrambled to shore up enough support to defeat Bush's veto, eying swingRepresentatives and Senators.

The House vote; nevertheless, was a significantvictory for Pelosi and her fellow Democrats, who took control of Congress inNovember on a pledge to end the unpopular war in Iraq.

Two years ago, most lawmakers shied away fromspeaking out against the war and Friday's vote underscored the change.

"One of the things that accounted for thisresult is that public opinion has continued to move. ... People are veryanti-war," Reuters quoted as saying Massachusetts Democrat Barney Fran.

Despite polls showing broad dissatisfaction with thewar, Bush has increased UStroop strength to quell violence in Baghdad.

Violence culminated Friday in a suicide bombing thatwounded Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam Al-Zobaie.

The debate now shifts to the Senate, which could voteas early next week on its version of the war-spending bill.

The Senate version, which was adopted by thepowerful Appropriations Committee Thursday, March 22, calls for removing troopsfrom Iraqby March 31, 2008.

Some centrist senators, who could cast the pivotalvotes, were still mulling their positions.

Source:Agencies

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