The House Votes NO on Iraq exit plan: Kucinich/Abercrombie to introduce new initiative to get out
by : Kevin Zeese
Saturday May 28, 2005 - 02:30
The House Votes on Withdrawing Troops from Iraq By Kevin Zeese Online Journal
Friday 27 May 2005
Now we know where they stand. The historic debate and vote on the Lynn Woolsey amendment.
On the evening of May 25, the US House of Representatives considered an amendment offered by Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) calling for an exit strategy from Iraq. Amendment No. 26 simply stated:
"It is the sense of Congress that the president should -
(1) develop a plan as soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act to provide for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq; and
(2) transmit to the congressional defense committees a report that contains the plan described in paragraph (1)."
The simple resolution was a moderate one. It set no specific timetable for withdrawal-in an effort to make it easy for members of Congress to agree. After all, we always claim we intend to leave Iraq. This amendment was an opportunity to make leaving Iraq the policy of the United States. The amendment, part of the debate on the authorization for the Department of Defense was allotted 30 minutes on the floor of the House of Representatives-15 minutes for each side.
In the end the amendment failed-by a vote of 300 to 128 with 5 not voting. Because Rep. Woolsey insisted on a roll call vote we now know who needs to be convinced. There were some disappointing votes including the Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, as well as members generally seen as liberals, including Rep. Cardin (D-MD), Rep. Stenny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Sanchez (D-CA) and Rep. Udall (D-CO). Five Republicans voted for the amendment, most notably Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) who is well known for insisting that the french fries sold in the Capitol be re-named "Freedom Fries."
Rep. Woolsey opened the debate noting that her amendment was in honor of the "brave men and women who are serving in Iraq" as "the best way to support them is to establish a plan to bring them home." She went on to point out:
. . . our continued presence in Iraq after the election has caused America to be seen by the Iraqi people as an occupying power, not as a liberating force. Our continued presence in Iraq works against efforts for democracy, provides a rallying point for angry insurgents, and ultimately makes the United States less safe."
She also made it clear she does not want to abandon Iraq, recognizing it is a country that has been devastated, saying, "We must assist Iraq, not through our military but through international humanitarian efforts to rebuild their war-torn economic and physical infrastructure."
Leading the opposition to the amendment was Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA). He portrayed the amendment as sending a message to US opponents:
"This amendment is a message-sender. It is a message-sender to people like Al Sadr who are considering even now continuing to foment rebellion against the elected government in Iraq. It is a message-sender to Zarqawi and his followers, who think that perhaps the United States doe not have the stomach to continue to oppose them. It is a message-sender to our troops, who might, in seeing if this amendment should pass, feel that the resolve of the American people is fading away."
In an ironic use of Mohandas Gandhi, certainly no advocate of war, Rep.Geoff Davis (R-KY) argued that because Iraqis have shown they want democracy we should continue our occupation of Iraq, saying: "Mohandas Gandhi said, ’The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.’ The people have democracy in their hearts. They can feel it within their grasp. They can look up and see it shining near them. We just have to stand and give them a hand to reach it." Rep. Davis made clear what the exit strategy of war supporters is:
"Let our foes understand one thing. Our exit strategy from Iraq is simply this: winning the war on terror. We must hold firm to the course and be resolved in our determination to with this fight."
Perhaps the most important speech in favor of an exit strategy came from Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). His district in North Carolina is one that is very supportive of the military. His opposition to the continuation of the war is of interest because he had been a supporter of the war, a point he highlighted in his opening: "This is about a policy, that I believed when I voted 2 years ago to commit the troops that I was making my decision on facts. Since that time I have been very disappointed in what I have learned about the justification for going into Iraq." He explained:
" . . . all this amendment does is just say that it is time for the Congress to meet its responsibility. The responsibility of Congress is to make decisions whether we should send our men and women to war or not send them to war. What we are saying here tonight is we think it is time for the Congress to begin, to start the debate and discussion of what the exit strategy is of this government . . ."
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) echoed Rep. Jones’s concern for Congress doing its "constitutional duty." She pointed out that it "is a constitutional duty by this Congress to declare war. We failed in that duty a couple of years ago." She argued, now, by debating withdrawal the Congress would be correcting that constitutional error.
A majority in Congress requires 218 votes. From this vote, it is evident that those advocating an end to the war-a view that now represents the majority of the people of the United States-are 90 votes away from success in the House of Representatives. With an election year coming in 2006, support for the war diminishing, the cost in human lives and the US treasury escalating, a concerted effort by the antiwar movement to convince members of Congress should be the focus. Success is achievable.
As Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA), noted: " . . . when he was Governor of Texas, this is the advice that George W. Bush gave President Clinton about the war in Kosovo. Victory, he said, means exit strategy, and it is important for the President of the United States to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
The case for an exit strategy in Iraq is even stronger than for Kosovo. The current strategy is failing. As Rep. Meehan said: "Without an exit strategy to win the peace and bring our troops home, our policy is going in circles." Let us hope that President Bush listens to the advice of Governor Bush.
Kevin Zeese is Director of Democracy Rising http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/0...
Kucinich and Abercrombie are getting ready to introduce new legislation (from Kucinich.us)
"It is time for a new initiative to get out of Iraq. One which does not engage in casting blame, or in fomenting recriminations. One which holds the return home of our troops as being both the logical conclusion of a mission, and the imperative which flows from new information concerning the mission.
It is time to reach out to Republicans and Democrats alike, no matter how they voted on the war, to have Congress legislate a date certain by which all US troops must be withdrawn from Iraq. We can and must create a new way to bring our brave men and women back home.
Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D) of Hawaii and I are drafting legislation to set a time by which the US must be out of Iraq. We are carefully building a new coalition. We are planning on introducing the legislation next week."
From Kucinich Floor speech on Woolsey Ammendment... "Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from California (Ms. WOOLSEY) for yielding me time.
"The reason I am rising to support her amendment is because I think that we have come to a time in the war in Iraq where Democrats and Republicans alike need to consider all the events that have transpired, to do it in a way that is compassionate for the decisions that were made to send us into war, and to do it without recriminations, without challenging each other’s integrity, without challenging each other’s love for our country or support for the troops.
"Democrats and Republicans came together to send this country to war. We can only come together to take this country out of Iraq. You start to see the signs that make it so apparent that the time is near. The time is near when this Congress must consider the reality facing our troops, the reality of the circumstances which sent our troops into battle. And we need to do this as colleagues who may have started from different points of view on Iraq. I certainly have a different point of view. I voted against the war. But now we are starting to see people who voted for the war coming forward and expressing their concerns.
"We have to have that capacity for rational reflection and an ability, not to say so much that we were wrong, but to say we have new information and we therefore have a right to reappraise the situation and take a new direction. The Woolsey amendment gives us a chance to do that, and it sets us on a path.
"So whether it is the Woolsey amendment or something that happens in the next few weeks and months, Democrats and Republicans are going to have to come together to help the President get out of the mess that this country is in.
"So I think we can proceed in a spirit that is amicable. We do not have to be beating each other up on this. We do not have to have a war about war, or certainly a war about a peaceful withdrawal.
"So the Woolsey amendment is an important step in the direction of setting this country on a path towards extricating ourself from Iraq. For that reason, I support it, and I want to commend her for her activity on behalf of it."
Who voted to leave the troops to die in a futile quagmire?
NOES 300 ---
Ackerman Aderholt Akin Alexander Andrews Bachus Baker Barrett (SC) Barrow Bartlett (MD) Barton (TX) Bass Bean Beauprez Berkley Berman Berry Biggert Bilirakis Bishop (GA) Bishop (NY) Bishop (UT) Blackburn Blunt Boehlert Boehner Bonilla Bonner Bono Boozman Boren Boucher Boustany Boyd Bradley (NH) Brady (TX) Brown, Corrine Brown-Waite, Ginny Burgess Burton (IN) Butterfield Buyer Calvert Camp Cannon Cantor Capito Cardin Cardoza Carter Case Castle Chabot Chandler Chocola Cole (OK) Conaway Cooper Costa Cox Cramer Crenshaw Crowley Cubin Cuellar Culberson Cunningham Davis (AL) Davis (CA) Davis (FL) Davis (KY) Davis (TN) Davis, Jo Ann Davis, Tom Deal (GA) DeLauro DeLay Dent Diaz-Balart, L. Diaz-Balart, M. Dicks Dingell Doolittle Drake Dreier Edwards Ehlers Engel English (PA) Etheridge Everett Feeney Ferguson Fitzpatrick (PA) Flake Foley Forbes Ford Fortenberry Fossella Foxx Franks (AZ) Frelinghuysen Gallegly Garrett (NJ) Gerlach Gibbons Gilchrest Gillmor Gingrey Gohmert Gonzalez Goode Goodlatte Granger Graves Green (WI) Gutknecht Hall Harman Harris Hart Hayes Hayworth Hefley Hensarling Herger Herseth Higgins Hobson Hoekstra Holden Hostettler Hoyer Hulshof Hunter Hyde Inglis (SC) Israel Issa Istook Jenkins Jindal Johnson (CT) Johnson (IL) Johnson, Sam Kanjorski Keller Kelly Kennedy (MN) Kennedy (RI) Kildee Kind King (IA) King (NY) Kingston Kirk Kline Knollenberg Kolbe Kuhl (NY) LaHood Langevin Lantos Larsen (WA) Latham LaTourette Levin Lewis (CA) Lewis (KY) Linder LoBiondo Lowey Lucas Lungren, Daniel E. Mack Manzullo Marchant Marshall Matheson McCarthy McCaul (TX) McCotter McCrery McHenry McHugh McIntyre McKeon McMorris Meek (FL) Mica Miller (FL) Miller (MI) Miller, Gary Mollohan Moore (KS) Moran (KS) Murphy Murtha Musgrave Myrick Neugebauer Ney Northup Norwood Nunes Nussle Ortiz Osborne Otter Oxley Pearce Pelosi Pence Peterson (MN) Peterson (PA) Petri Pickering Pitts Platts Poe Pombo Pomeroy Price (GA) Pryce (OH) Putnam Radanovich Ramstad Regula Rehberg Reichert Renzi Reyes Reynolds Rogers (AL) Rogers (KY) Rogers (MI) Rohrabacher Ros-Lehtinen Ross Roybal-Allard Royce Ruppersberger Ryan (WI) Ryun (KS) Salazar Sanchez, Loretta Saxton Schiff Schwarz (MI) Scott (GA) Sensenbrenner Sessions Shadegg Shaw Shays Sherwood Shimkus Shuster Simmons Simpson Skelton Smith (NJ) Smith (TX) Snyder Sodrel Souder Spratt Stearns Stupak Sullivan Sweeney Tancredo Tanner Tauscher Taylor (MS) Taylor (NC) Terry Thomas Thornberry Tiahrt Tiberi Turner Udall (CO) Upton Visclosky Walden (OR) Walsh Wamp Weldon (FL) Weldon (PA) Weller Westmoreland Whitfield Wicker Wilson (NM) Wilson (SC) Wolf Young (AK) Young (FL)
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