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House set to reject Bush troop buildup in Iraq

Jan 26, 2007
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Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:52 AM ET
By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush was resigned to a stinging rebuke from the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday over his Iraq war policy and his decision to send more troops, the White House said.

The Democratic-controlled House was set to vote late on Friday on a symbolic resolution supporting U.S. forces in Iraq but opposing the Republican president's decision to send another 21,500 troops.

"Congress has a right to express its views," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said. Bush was holding his fire, prepared to fight any subsequent effort by lawmakers to cut funding for the war.

While the resolution would not force Bush to act, its supporters hope to pressure him to reverse course and start bringing U.S. forces home from the unpopular war in which more than 3,100 American troops have died.

"No more blank checks for President Bush on Iraq," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared. She warned the White House that the measure would be only the first of a raft of legislation on the war coming to the House floor.

The measure was expected to pass with support of virtually all of the House's 233 Democrats and possibly dozens of its 201 Republicans, many worried about their political fate should they keep backing the president on the war.

Opponents said Iraq was but one battle in a global struggle against Islamic radicals that the United States could not abandon. They also portrayed the resolution as an attempt to embarrass the president and his Republican party.


"This is a political charade, lacking both the seriousness and gravity of the issue it is meant to address," said House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

Polls show most Americans oppose the troop increase, and about a dozen Republicans spoke out against it during debate.

Even before the vote, lawmakers were talking about what Congress would do next. But the president's spokesman remained steadfast.

"Where the president's focus will be is when they get into discussion of binding resolutions or funding for the troops because the president will certainly fight very aggressively to make sure that the troops have the resources they need to do the job that he's asked them to do," Stanzel said.

Democratic leaders insisted they would not cut off funding for troops in the field. But Rep. John Murtha, chairman of a key House spending committee, said his plans for conditions on how Bush can spend $93.4 billion in new combat funds would effectively stop the American troop buildup.

"They won't be able to continue ... They won't have the equipment, they don't have the training and they won't be able to do the work," the Pennsylvania Democrat said.

In the Senate, which normally takes the lead on weighty foreign policy issues, Democratic leaders scheduled a rare Saturday vote on whether to consider the House resolution.

The chamber had planned to debate a similar proposal last week, ahead of the House. But it deadlocked on procedural issues, with Republicans insisting there also be a vote on a proposal forbidding a cutoff of funding for troops abroad.


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