Tuesday, February 13, 2007

House members joust over Iraq war policy

WASHINGTON - House members fiercely debated Iraq war policy Tuesday in an emotional and historic floor faceoff over a conflict that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) lambasted as a U.S. commitment with "no end in sight."

The confluence of arguments came as the war nears the four-year point with over 3,100 American deaths, billions spent and lawmakers grappling what position to take on President Bush's decision to send an additional 21,500 troops into battle.

"The American people have lost faith in President Bush's course of action in Iraq and they are demanding a new direction," said Pelosi, a California Democrat who became the first female House speaker after her party took control of both the House and Senate in the fall elections.

A resolution putting the House on record as against Bush's expansion of troop strength was expected to be approved by week's end. It was nonbinding, but nevertheless unmistakable in its message. "No more blank checks for President Bush on Iraq," Pelosi declared.

Countered White House press secretary Tony Snow: "Members of the House and members of the Senate have the freedom to go ahead and write their resolutions, and do what they want with them. The one thing we do expect is, we do expect those who say they're going to support the troops, to support them."

Republicans, now the minority party on the Hill for the time in 12 years, issued impassioned warnings of the consequences of undermining the president's policies in Iraq. "We will embolden terrorists in every corner in the world. We will give Iran free access to the Middle East," said Republican leader John Boehner (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio. "And who doesn't believe the terrorists will just follow our troops home?"

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