Sun, Nov 20, 2005 - Page 1 News List

US House rejects immediate Iraqi pullout

GRANDSTANDING?Almost all the Democrats voted against the non-binding measure, accusing their Republican colleagues of trying to orchestrate a publicity stunt and a sham

AP , WASHINGTON

The US House of Representatives spurned calls for an immediate pullout of troops from Iraq in a vote the Republicans hastily arranged on Friday night and one which the Democrats vociferously denounced as politically motivated.

"To cut and run would invite terrorism into our backyards, and no one wants to see troops fighting terrorism on American soil," said Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The House, as planned, rejected a Republican-written resolution for immediate withdrawal.

The vote was 403-3 to reject the nonbinding resolution.

Democrats accused Republicans of orchestrating a political stunt that prohibited thoughtful debate on the issue, and nearly all voted against the measure.

That included Representative John Murtha, the Democratic hawk whose call on Thursday for pulling out troops set off a nasty, personal debate over the war.

"Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on our present course," Murtha said.

He said the Republican resolution was not the thoughtful approach he had suggested to bring the troops safely home in six months.

Murtha, a 37-year Marine veteran decorated for combat service in Vietnam and widely respected among his peers, issued his call for a troop withdrawal on Thursday. In little more than 24 hours, Hastert and Republicans decided to put the question to the House.

Republicans hoped to place the Democrats in an unappealing position -- either supporting a withdrawal that critics said would be precipitous or opposing it and angering voters who want an end to the conflict. They also hoped the vote could restore the party's momentum on an issue that has seen plummeting public support in recent weeks.

Democrats said it was a sham and quickly decided to vote against the resolution in an attempt to drain it of significance.

"A disgrace," declared House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.

At one point in the debate, Representative Jean Schmidt, a Republican, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel: He asked me to send Congress a message -- stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message -- that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

Democrats booed and shouted her down -- causing the House to come to a standstill.

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