Manzullo votes against September 2008 Iraq withdrawal

War spending bill passes House 218-212, President Bush vows veto

U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16) voted March 23 against a war spending bill that would require combat operations in Iraq to cease before September 2008, or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain requirements.

The bill, which would provide $124 billion to finance military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of 2007, passed the House 218-212, with congressmen voting mostly along party lines.

President George W. Bush has said he would veto the bill.

According to the Associated Press, Bush appeared at the White House March 23 with veterans and family members to say Democrats have staged nothing more than “political theater” that will delay the delivery of resources to soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Bush said that if the spending bill is not approved and signed into law by April 15, troops and their families “will face significant disruptions.”

“A narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law and brings us no closer to getting the troops the resources they need to do their job,” Bush said in an Associated Press report.

Democrats, who seized power in both the House and Senate in the November 2006 elections as the result of a perceived backlash against the Republican support for the war, viewed the passage of the bill as a victory.

“The American people have lost faith in the president’s conduct of this war,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in an Associated Press report. “The American people see the reality of the war, the president does not.”

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said during House debate: “The American public expects the Congress of the United States to do something. Not simply say ‘yes’ to failed policies, but to, on their behalf, speak out and try to take us in a new direction.”

Bush said lawmakers should allow more time for his strategy of sending 30,000 additional troops to Iraq to take effect. Meantime, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced Feb. 21 the withdrawal of 1,600 British troops, reducing the number of troops provided by America’s No. 1 ally in the war to around 5,500.

About 140,000 U.S. troops are currently in Iraq. Bush’s proposed increase would put about 170,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

More than $500 billion has been spent on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, including about $350 billion for Iraq alone, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, reported the Associated Press. More than 3,200 American troops have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

The U.S. Senate is expected to begin debate as early as Monday on legislation that also calls for a troop withdrawal-and which Bush has also said he would veto.

The Senate legislation would provide $122 billion to finance military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of 2007, but would require Bush begin bringing home an unspecified number of troops within four months with the goal of getting all combat troops out by March 31, 2008. The Senate deadline, however, is not a firm requirement.

Should the House and Senate send a compromised House-Senate bill to the president, the two chambers would need a two-thirds majority vote to overturn his veto.

In addition to Manzullo, other Illinois congressmen voted as follows March 23:

For the war spending bill: Melissa Bean (D-8), Jerry F. Costello (D-12), Danny K. Davis (D-7), Rahm Emanuel (D-5), Luis V. Gutierrez (D-4), Phil Hare (D-17), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2), Daniel Lipinski (D-3), Bobby L. Rush (D-1) and Jan Schakowsky (D-9).

Against the war spending bill: Judy Biggert (R-13), Dennis J. Hastert (R-14), Timothy V. Johnson (R-15), Mark Steven Kirk (R-10), Ray LaHood (R-18), Manzullo, Peter Roskam (R-6), John Shimkus (R-19) and Jerry Weller (R-11).

From the March 21-27, 2007, issue

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