House Democrats on Thursday revealed their newest plan to force President Bush’s hand on the war on terror. The new proposal would require all U.S. forces to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of September 2008.
Aides to President Bush immediately said this was a proposal the President would veto. Bush has long said that any proposal that would put a definite timeline for withdrawing troops would almost immediately get his veto stamp.
“The administration would vehemently oppose and, ultimately, veto any legislation that looks like what was described today,” said White House spokesman Dan Bartlett. “It would unnecessarily handcuff our generals on the ground, and it’s safe to say it’s a nonstarter for the president.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats in the House of Representatives would be “unified” on the legislation, even though it has taken four tries to come to some sort of consensus on a policy. One of Pelosi’s challenges is trying to appease the radical liberal wing of the Democratic party, which wants an immediate withdrawal of all troops, and the more moderate, “Blue Dog” elements of the party, which do not want to be seen as tying the hands of the military.
But even before Pelosi was finished introducing the proposed legislation, there were rumbles of disagreement from within her party’s ranks. California Democrat Lynn Woolsley said, “We want our troops home with their family by Christmastime.”
House Republicans reacted swiftly as well, with House Republican Leader John Boehner taking the lead.
“General Petraeus should be the one making the decisions on what happens on the ground in Iraq, not Nancy Pelosi or John Murtha,” he said.
On the other side of the Capitol Building, Senate Democrats prepared their own piece of legislation. In the Senate version, a target date for withdrawal would be set, but it would not be a deadline. The measure, as introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, would allow U.S. military personnel to stay in Iraq after that, but only to train and equip Iraqi military.
This piece of legislation would say the original authorization for the war in Iraq is no longer valid. It claims that U.S. troops shouldn’t be involved in policing an Iraqi civil war. Similar to the House legislation, the Senate bill would allow U.S. troops to remain before for security and training.