WASHINGTON – On the eve of a critical vote, House Democrats labored Thursday to lock down a majority behind a Sept. 1, 2008, deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, the sternest test yet for a determined new majority eager to challenge President Bush.
“If it comes off, it’s a superb accomplishment,” said Rep. Barney Frank (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., as the party’s leaders cajoled liberals who want an even faster timetable and moderates fearful of tying the hands of the commander in chief and generals in the field.
Democratic aides expressed growing confidence of success when the vote is called, and four of the bill’s most consistent critics said they had told Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) they would help pass it, even though they intend to personally vote against it.
“While I cannot betray my conscience, I cannot stand in the way of passing a measure that puts a concrete end date on this unnecessary war,” said one of the four, Rep. Barbara Lee (news, bio, voting record) of California.
An aide to Pelosi confirmed the speaker had met with Lee and California Reps. Lynn Woolsey (news, bio, voting record), Maxine Waters (news, bio, voting record) and Diane Watson (news, bio, voting record). But with the leadership lobbying intensively on its own, it was not clear which lawmakers, if any, had swung behind the bill as a result of the offer the four had made.
Throughout the day, a string of liberal opponents of the war swung behind a measure they deemed insufficient.
“I want this war ended today. If I thought it would help this war ending sooner by voting against the bill, I would vote against it in a heartbeat,” said Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, who sponsored legislation for a troop withdrawal in 2005.
“But I don’t believe that to be the case,” he added of the measure, which combines funding for the war, the troop withdrawal deadline and billions of dollars in funding for politically popular programs at home ranging from farm aid to relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
While we’re all tired of the war, I’m from the school of thought that it would lead to chaos to just up and leave. 2009/2010 would be a little more realistic but then we’re still in Japan, atom bomb anybody? I’m also from the school of thought that whether we belong there or not is beyond the more important point that we are there, more diplomacy needs to be involved in getting other countries to aid in the rebuilding of Iraq and in the meantime we need to support our troops as much as possible rather than protest in Washington, sit outside of Dubya’s mansion in Texas, or refer to any loss of life as a “waste.”
Democrats hold 233 seats in the House, meaning they can lose 15 votes from their own rank and file and still be assured of passing the measure.
Whatever the vote count, some war foes disagreed with the strategy.
“I think the Democrats are doing it all wrong,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.
“We don’t agree with them,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif. She said she and others believe the party must “honor what the voters of November said, which is to be bold, end the war and bring the troops home.”
Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t recall that vote taking place….. Do politicians even have the slightest clue what our views are? It’s always been my opinion they have no clue and just THINK they are speaking for the majority of their constituency…
Update by Nate @ 1:08am:
I concur. The 2008 Democratic candidates are racing with each other to sponsor Iraq pullout legislation. Obama and Hillary both support withdrawals. Barack maybe more publicly than Hillary but behind the scenes, the want the same thing.