Anti-War Dems Promise Troop Withdrawal Effort

July 7, 2008 - 8:32 PM

Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - Anti-war congressmen on Wednesday pledged to continue to introduce troop withdrawal measures in Iraq-funding legislation despite previous failures and presidential vetoes.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said at a news conference near the U.S. Capitol that he and his anti-war colleagues hope to attach a withdrawal provision onto an upcoming Iraq supplemental request.

Moran acknowledged, however, that "it's going to be an uphill climb." He noted that passage of a withdrawal provision "depends on getting 218 votes and it has been difficult."

"Of course we don't have the votes," Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said in a more blunt analysis of a withdrawal provision's chances. But she said it was still important to keep proposing the measures to voice the feelings of anti-war Americans.

"Those [anti-war] voices are very important," Waters said. "The struggle for justice or freedom ... does not stop with the threat of a veto."

"Actually, we do have the votes in the House to set a date," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said. "We've done it before." She was referring to previous successful attempts by congressional Democrats to set troop withdrawal deadlines.

In May, President Bush vetoed a spending bill that included a troop withdrawal measure tied to September 2007. In July, the House passed a measure that would have set an April 1, 2008, deadline for withdrawal.

The Senate has had more difficulty passing withdrawal measures. In a highly publicized effort to bring attention to the issue, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) led an all-night session in July in a failed attempt to block a Republican filibuster of a withdrawal provision.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) did not respond to questions on Wednesday about whether she had received any indication that the Democratic leadership would support the withdrawal efforts. But she said she is "pushing on" them for support.

The congressional news conference ended as anti-war demonstrators from CODEPINK began a protest outside House office buildings. The 15 activists carried pink riding crops to "whip" Congress into shape.

The new CODEPINK campaign is targeting the Democratic leadership, which anti-war activists say "turned its back on the peace movement."

"Democratic members of Congress have been dragging their feet to end the war in Iraq," the group says in a video on its Web site aimed at Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

"It's about time we started whipping those reluctant representatives into shape," the video says. "With your help, we can dominate Congress with peacemakers and finally end this illegal, immoral and unconstitutional occupation."

In a briefing with reporters Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the Democratic leadership would be pushing for "a responsible redeployment of our troops" and that the leadership would "probably" seek a timeline on troop withdrawal.

"Without a timeline ... the Iraqis are not going to step up to the plate," Hoyer said.

On Tuesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Republicans will "listen to the generals on the ground and await any recommendations, next steps, or adjustments that may be needed in the strategy that Members of both parties are calling a success."

He was referring to the "surge" strategy implemented earlier this year.

During the August recess, Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) reversed his stance on the war after a trip to Iraq. Previously opposed to the effort in Iraq, Baird said after his trip that "a precipitous or premature withdrawal of our forces now has the potential to turn the initial errors into an even greater problem just as success looks possible."

In a statement on his trip, Baird said he was "convinced by the evidence that the situation has at long last begun to change substantially for the better. I believe Iraq could have a positive future."

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