HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 571 OVERWHELMNGLY DEFEATED
I watched the floor debate in its entirety on C-SPAN last night over House Resolution #571 -- whether our armed forces in Iraq should be recalled immediately, as Representative John Murtha (D-PA) had called for Thursday of this week -- and then, and no surprise here, watched the electronic vote tally and the overwhelming rejection of the resolution by a margin of 403-3.
House Republicans cleverly made the Party of Amnesia codify in its votes a 180 degree contradiction of its petulant anti-war rhetoric of recent weeks -- all of that hysterical anti-Bush huffing and puffing and unadulterated animus -- and for all Americans to see. Now it is a matter of record that 187 House democrats are not in favor of a precipitous withdrawal of American troops from the Iraq war zone and had they been they would have had to answer to their constituents in next year's mid-term elections.
From "The Daily Journal" (San Mateo County, CA):
The fireworks, as lawmakers rushed toward a two-week Thanksgiving break, came just days after the GOP-controlled Senate defeated a Democratic push for Bush to lay out a timetable for withdrawal. Spotlighting questions from both parties about the war, senators approved a statement that 2006 should be a significant year in which conditions are created for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Murtha has proposed his own resolution that would force the president to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq “at the earliest practicable date.” It would establish a quick-reaction force and a nearby presence of Marines in the region. It also said the U.S. must pursue stability in Iraq through diplomacy.
The Republican alternative simply said: “It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.”
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) released the following statement following the defeat of the resolution:
The U.S. House of Representatives has sent a resounding sign of support for our Armed Forces waging the War on Terror. We have said, firmly and unconditionally, that the United States of America will stand strong against those who wish to terrorize our citizens and disrupt democracy -- America's and Iraq's.
We have to remain on the offensive. To cut and run would invite terrorism into our backyards, and no one wants to see troops fighting terrorism on American soil. Vigilance and resolve are key to winning this War on Terror. Now, I hope that the U.S. House of Representatives can move forward united in support of our troops and determination to win this war.
The Washington Post reports in this morning's edition (registration required) the drama and the histrionics of last night's play-for-the-cameras' debate:
But the maneuvering exposed the chamber's raw partisan divisions and prompted a tumultuous scene, which Capitol Hill veterans called among the wildest and most emotional they had ever witnessed.
Though even many Democrats think Murtha's immediate withdrawal plan is impractical, it struck a chord in a party where frustration with the war and the Bush administration's open-ended commitment is mounting fast. Murtha galvanized the debate as few others could have. He is a 33-year House veteran and former Marine colonel who received medals for his wounds and valor in Vietnam, and he has traditionally been a leading Democratic hawk and advocate of military spending.
Murtha's resolution included language the Republicans wanted to avoid, such as "the American people have not been shown clear, measurable progress" toward stability in Iraq. It also said troops should be withdrawn "at the earliest practicable date," although Murtha said in statements and interviews Thursday that the drawdown should begin now.
Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) drafted a simpler resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops, saying it was a fair interpretation of Murtha's intent. Members were heatedly debating a procedural rule concerning the Hunter resolution when Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) was recognized at 5:20 p.m. Schmidt won a special election in August, defeating Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, and is so new to Congress that some colleagues do not know her name.
She told colleagues that "a few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp," an Ohio legislator and Marine Corps Reserve officer. "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."
WaPo reports the reaction:
Dozens of Democrats erupted at once, pointing angrily at Schmidt and shouting repeatedly, "Take her words down" -- the House term for retracting a statement. For a moment Schmidt tried to keep speaking, but the uproar continued and several GOP colleagues surrounded her as she sat down, looking slightly dazed. Presiding officer Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) gaveled in vain for order as Democrats continued shouting for Schmidt to take back her words. Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) yelled "You guys are pathetic!" from the far end of the Democratic section to the GOP side.
Just as matters seemed to calm a bit, Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) suddenly charged across the aisle to the GOP seats, jabbing his finger furiously at a small group of GOP members and shouting, "Say Murtha's name!" Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.), who had led the chants for striking Schmidt's comments, gently guided Ford by the arm back to the minority party's side.
At 5:31, when order was finally restored, Schmidt rose again and said softly, "My words were not directed at any member of the House." She asked that they "be withdrawn" from the record.
Only in the United States House of Representatives would you find such high drama commingled with an altogether predictable vote. It just goes to prove that when you put a vote where one's mouth is all too many of the Democratic Party's House members are empty suits when it comes to the global war on terror. And the American people know this and know it even better this morning (as do our men and women in uniform).
Watching C-Span last night was like watching the replication of John Kerry's DNA ("I voted for the war before I voted against it.").
FOLLOW-UP: The Anchoress wrote a solid post yesterday on the debate over the war in Iraq and made a compelling case for staying the course. It deserves a complete reading!
FOLLOW-UP II: H-Bomb at AnkleBitingPundits puts up a terrific post challenging the patriotism of those Democrats who spill vitriol in blaming the war in Iraq on President Bush and run off at the mouth daily about how the U.S. ought to cut and run from Iraq.
FOLLOW-UP III: Betsy Newmark gets right to the heart of the matter vis-a-vis the path of late so many Democrats have taken in denouncing the war, calling Bush a liar, and spewing venom right and left charging Republicans with deceitfulness. She writes of these Democrats: "Perhaps, they can settle down now and realize that words have consequences."
FOLLOW-UP IV: Captain Ed watched the C-Span coverage last night and live-blogged the proceedings, offered editorial comment, and published a couple of good links. Read the entire post!
FOLLOW-UP V: Never to be outdone, Michelle Malkin was right on top of things last night.
FOLLOW-UP VI: Polipundit pulls no punches. Don't miss reading this post.
FOLLOW-UP VII: John Hinderaker at Power Line isn't so sure that the House Republicans made the most of their opportunity last night.
FOLLOW-UP VIII: Unlike John Hinderaker's opinion that the GOP didn't fully capitalize on the Murtha call for a troop withdrawal in Iraq, John Hawkins of Right Wing News deems the Republican-forced vote last night "a shrewd political maneuver."
FOLLOW-UP IX: Michelle Malkin links to a detailed, heavily-linked post by Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette on the long history of the war in Iraq, covering the 1990-2003 period. This ought to be required reading for Congressional Democrats. As Greyhawk writes in terms of the Party of Amnesia's efforts to re-write history: "Thus history is being rewritten, and free speech is being cheapened by some who employ it the most and cherish it the least - even as Americans fight and die to uphold their rights to do so."
FOLLOW-UP X: Professor Bainbridge views the GOP ploy last night as a "stunt" and thinks they should have followed the suggestion of Lawrence Kudlow. I agree: it would have been a more affirmative resolution on behalf of the troops and our war effort.
FOLLOW-UP XI: Roger L. Simon wasn't terribly impressed with Murtha; Frank Laughter's reaction, true to form, is even less ambiguous!