May 26, 2005
FIRST HOUSE VOTE ON EXITING FROM IRAQ WAR
Council for a Livable World
On May 25, 2005, the House of Representatives voted on an amendment that has launched the debate in Congress over the American presence in Iraq.
California Democratic Representative Lynn Woolsey offered an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that asked President Bush to develop a plan as soon as practicable to withdraw American troops from Iraq. Though the amendment was defeated 128 - 300, it drew majority support from Democrats.
We only learned that the House Rules Committee approved bringing up the amendment for a vote on the morning of the vote, so there was little time to prepare or work. Nonetheless, at least four groups sent out e-alerts asking supporters to contact Members of Congress. In addition, a letter signed by 18 organizations and individuals was sent to all 435 House offices.
While the amendment was only a sense of Congress asking for the President to provide a plan, it an excellent start. The Woolsey amendment drew majority support from Democrats, 122 - 79. It was many years into the Vietnam quagmire before a majority of Democrats could be rallied to call for withdrawal.
Moreover, while the Vietnam war escalated into a larger conflict in 1965, it was not until 1971 that Congress began to vote on the war. The timetable for building the opposition to the Iraq war has accelerated. In fact, there has been a rapid rise in opposition to the war since the beginning of the year. A January 12, 2005 Woolsey letter asking the President to bring the troops home was signed by 16 Democrats; a January 26, 2005 resolution introduced in the House had 24 co-signers. Yesterday, 122 Democrats voted for the amendment.
Five Republicans, including conservative Southerners Harold Coble (NC), Walter Jones (NC) and John Duncan (TN), plus moderate Jim Leach (IA) and libertarian Ron Paul (TX), bucked the President and voted for the Woolsey amendment.
The Democratic leadership split: Pelosi (CA) and Hoyer (MD) voted "wrong"; Menendez (NJ), Clyburn (SC) and Emanuel (IL) voted "right."
There are new opportunities for votes on Iraq in coming weeks. The Senate is ex-pected to take up the Defense Authorization bill during the week of June 6. The House may take up the Defense Appropriations bill that same week or the following week.
With sufficient planning time, it would be useful to approach Republicans about helping to lead an amendment fight related to an eventual exit from Iraq. With the House vote in hand, we now have a target list of Democrats and Republicans to lobby for future votes. With sufficient time, we may be able to secure endorsements from Iraq veterans, retired military, conservative leaders and former national security officials. With the "nuclear option" off the table, it may be possible to get groups with large e-mail lists involved in future efforts, including Moveon.org, True Majority and Working Assets.
In short, the Woolsey amendment was an important first step in a larger and longer campaign.
The text of the amendment was:
SEC. 1223. WITHDRAWAL OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM IRAQ.
It is the sense of Congress that the President should -
(1) develop a plan as soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act to provide for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq; and
(2) transmit to the congressional defense committees a report that contains the plan described in paragraph (1).
(to see the complete vote: http://clerk.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.asp?year=2005&rollnumber=220
5 Republicans voted "aye":
122 Democrats voting "aye":
Johnson, E. B.
Sánchez, Linda T.
Some of the Democrats who voted "no":
Sanchez, Loretta (CA)
Council for a Livable World
322 4th Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 543-4100 x.131
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|