So the news has been full of the hawkish, decorated, ex-Marine, Vietnam Vet, Democratic House Member John Murtha calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. (Followed quickly by San Francisco’s representative, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, saying “Mr. Murtha speaks for himself.”)
Murtha introduced (as the sole sponsor) a House Resolution to support his call, which (after all of the usual throat-clearing “whereas”es) reads:
Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.
Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines shall be deployed in the region.
Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.
He apparently didn’t care to sign on to House Concurrent Resolution 35, which has a mere 34 co-sponsors so far, and which puts it this way (after the usual throat-clearing “whereas”es):
[I]t is the sense of Congress that the President should—
(1) develop and implement a plan to begin the immediate withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq;
(2) develop and implement a plan for reconstructing Iraq’s civil and economic infrastructure;
(3) convene an emergency meeting of Iraq’s leadership, Iraq’s neighbors, the United Nations, and the Arab League to create an international peacekeeping force in Iraq and to replace United States Armed Forces in Iraq with Iraqi police and Iraqi National Guard forces to ensure Iraq’s security; and
(4) take all steps necessary to provide the Iraqi people with the opportunity to completely control their internal affairs.
…or H.R. 4232, the “End the War in Iraq Act,” which has even fewer cosponsors, and puts things sans whereases:
(a) Prohibition– Except as provided in subsection (b), funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may not be obligated or expended to deploy or continue to deploy the Armed Forces to the Republic of Iraq.
(b) Exception– Subsection (a) shall not apply to the use of funds to—
(1) provide for the safe and orderly withdrawal of the Armed Forces from Iraq; or
(2) ensure the security of Iraq and the transition to democratic rule by—
(A) carrying out consultations with the Government of Iraq, other foreign governments, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the United Nations, and other international organizations; or
(B) providing financial assistance or equipment to Iraqi security forces and international forces in Iraq.
(c) Rule of Construction– Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit or otherwise restrict the use of funds available to any department or agency of the Government of the United States (other than the Department of Defense) to carry out social and economic reconstruction activities in Iraq.
(d) Definition– In this section, the term ‘Armed Forces’ has the meaning given the term in section 101(a)(4) of title 10, United States Code.
While war-ending resolutions like these have attracted few sponsors, many Democratic members of the House have been trying to compete rhetorically for the love and votes of the increasingly anti-war, withdrawal-happy public. So the Republicans decided to call their bluff today by introducing and rushing to the floor their own resolution which reads:
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Couldn’t be simpler, right? (Well, except that “Sense of the House is legislative language which offers the opinion of the House, but does not make law” which kind of makes the whole exercise even stupider — what could it mean for a legislative body to go on the record as being officially in favor of a course of action that it is simultaneously failing to legislate?)
The roll call vote should create a helpful list for The Nation to refer to when deciding which candidates to endorse . For as they said in their recent editorial:
We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign. We urge all voters to join us in adopting this position…
Courageously standing up to this stern threat from The Nation, Rep. Pelosi urged Democrats in the House to vote against the resolution, and 93% of them did (the total vote in the House was a lopsided 403 to 3).
Many Democrats have hit on a nuanced position that rejects the rash, cut-and-run language of the Republican-introduced measure, (which establishes that the opinion of the House is that “the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately”) in favor of the far more reasonable language in Murtha’s resolution (which says that “The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated”). Oh yes, if only they would allow us to bring up the Murtha resolution for a vote… but this sham Republican amendment is far too reckless to consider!
Update: According to the Associated Press, on Pelosi stopped distancing herself from Murtha’s position. “We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make American safer, to make our military stronger and to make Iraq more stable,” she said.