House Democratic leaders plan to force another vote on war policy in July, when lawmakers will take up a proposal that would end military involvement in Iraq by the spring of 2008, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Friday.
“Again, we will put everyone on record. We are encouraged by the public demand for this. Hopefully it will be heard by the president and the Republicans in Congress,” Pelosi said at a Friday press conference.
According to the Speaker, the measure will instruct the Defense secretary to begin the redeployment of military personnel from Iraq within 120 days of the bill’s passage and would require that withdrawal to be completed by April 1, 2008.
The legislation, similar to a measure vetoed by President Bush in May, would include exceptions for troops assigned to protect the U.S. Embassy and other specific missions.
According to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.), House leaders have not eliminated other potential measures — such as a motion to deauthorize the Iraq War that had been expected to reach the House floor in July — but the redeployment bill will become the focus of those efforts.
“The main initiative is a stand-alone bill the Speaker outlined,” Van Hollen said following the press conference. “We’re hoping the Republicans will join us in wanting to change direction in Iraq.”
Citing recent defections among Senate Republicans, including Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.), from support of the war, Van Hollen said House Democrats hope to see similar movement in their own chamber.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) demurred when asked at the press conference whether his chamber would be able to produce the 60 votes needed to move similar legislation.
“We’re going to keep pushing because it’s the right thing to do,” Reid said.
House Republican leaders are expected to push back hard against Pelosi’s latest Iraq plan.
“It’s almost laughable that a party who says it is strong on national security is openly advocating retreat in the fight against al Qaeda and the Global War on Terror,” Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), wrote in an e-mail Friday.
“Leader Boehner continues to believe that decisions regarding the War on Terror and the safety and security of the American people should be guided by the experts in those fields, not by politicians using crystal balls. General Petraeus has just received the full reinforcements he was promised, and condemning his plan to failure before it has a chance to succeed is unwise and irresponsible.”
In the meantime, House lawmakers also will pursue changes in Iraq policy in the fiscal 2008 Defense spending bill, which Appropriations Committee members have suggested will contain provisions mandating troops receive specific levels of rest and training between deployments, among other restrictions. The House also is slated to vote again on whether to withdraw from Iraq in September, as mandated by the supplemental spending bill signed into law in May.
“This does not rule out what we’re doing with Appropriations,” Pelosi said of the redeployment vote. “We have many arrows in our quiver and we are sharpening them.”