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House to Vote on Iraq Withdrawal Measure

Bowing to calls from liberal lawmakers, the House will vote Thursday on a measure to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The House will take up the legislation on the same day it is slated to vote on a new emergency spending bill to continue to fund the Iraq War, following President Bush’s veto of a similar measure last month.

The withdrawal measure, authored by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), would require U.S. military personnel to complete a withdrawal no more than 180 days from the enactment of the law.

While Democratic backers of the bill, approved by the House Rules Committee at a late-night meeting Wednesday, acknowledge the legislation is unlikely to win passage in the House, they praised House leadership for moving the measure to the floor.

“It’s our first actual vote to withdraw the troops,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus and a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus.

The California lawmaker said Thursday that Democratic leaders agreed to the bill in part to encourage liberal lawmakers to vote in favor of the supplemental spending bill.

Added an aide to one liberal House Democrat: “There have been a number of progressives who have been working with the leadership for months now to allow a vote on an alternative supplemental, which would only allocate funding to safely withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

“Giving them this opportunity makes any subsequent vote on the supplemental an easier pill to swallow and helps shift the overall debate — we’re not trying to ‘cut the funding for our troops,’ we’re trying to provide our generals on the ground the resources that they need to bring them home to their families,” the aide said.

Progressive lawmakers had offered a lukewarm reception of the latest version of the $95.5 billion appropriations bill, understanding that the measure would likely be watered down in a House-Senate conference.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) acknowledged Thursday that Senate Democrats have remained critical of the spending measure but defended bringing it to a vote.

“While the exact language may not be what the Senate is talking about, when we go to conference there are certain principles” both chambers agree on, she said.

The emergency spending bill is a two-tier measure that would provide funding to the military through the end of the summer but would require a House vote in July to release funds to the end of the fiscal 2007 year.

“We’ll continue to vote on this until it passes,” Woolsey said following a Democratic Caucus meeting.

— Jennifer Yachnin