Monday, February 12, 2007

House To Take Lead in Iraq Resolution Attempts

With the Senate tied down for the time being in the search for an acceptable Iraq resolution, the House of Representatives now takes center stage on the issue.

Three days of intense debate over the Iraq war begins in the House today, with Democrats planning to propose a narrowly worded rebuke of President Bush's troop buildup and Republicans girding for broad defections on their side. ...

After watching their counterparts in the Senate stall and sputter last week, unable to agree on ground rules for a debate on Iraq, House leaders are forging ahead, determined to send a statement to the White House to condemn a troop buildup.

Democrats will file a nonbinding resolution against the Bush plan while Republicans will try to broaden the dispute and seed doubt in the Democratic approach. Although Senate Republicans were able to block debate on a resolution condemning Bush's war policies last week, it will be much easier for Democrats in the House to bring a measure to the floor. ...

The last time an Iraq resolution came before the House was in June, when the Republicans controlled Congress. After two days of largely partisan debate, the House easily approved a measure declaring that the United States must complete "the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq," without setting "an arbitrary date for the withdrawal" of troops. Forty-two Democrats bucked their leadership to join a virtually united GOP.

But this debate will be different, lawmakers from both parties agree.

Democrats get to draft the resolution, and the war -- already unpopular in June -- is now clearly opposed by most voters. The party is united, even the left wing, which ultimately wants troop withdrawal from Iraq but is content to see the resolution as a first step.

House Republicans say as few as 20 or as many as 60 Republicans could vote with the Democrats, regardless of the wishes of the Republican leadership and the White House. ...

By its nature, the House is quicker to bend to public opinion than the Senate; House members are never more than two years away from an election.

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