House Rejects Setting Timeline for Withdrawal in Iraq

The nonbinding resolution, which passed in a 256-153 vote, praises the U.S. troops and declares that the United States must complete “the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure and unified Iraq” and that setting “an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment” is not in America’s interest.

“Retreat is not an option in Iraq,” said House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio. “Achieving victory is our only option, for the American people and our kids.”

On the other side of the debate, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California called the war a “grotesque mistake” as she called for a new direction in the conflict.

“We’re not making progress,” said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, who has emerged as the Democrats’ most outspoken opponents of the war. “They’re [Iraqis] fighting each other, and our troops are caught in between.”

On Thursday the Senate rejected an amendment to a defense authorization bill that called for nearly all U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the year’s end by a vote of 93-6.

The two days of debate are the first discussion on the war since Congress authorized force in Iraq nearly four years ago and came as the Pentagon announced the 2,500th U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.

The fiercely partisan debate between Republicans and Democrats over the war has escalated as polls show lagging public support for the war and President Bush. Surveys show that voters are increasingly frustrated with the war, an issue that will be central to many close midterm election races.

The votes will put members of Congress on the record as a display of their support or opposition to the war.

Republicans sought to depict Democrats as weak on terrorism and lacking support for U.S. troops while Democrats decried President Bush’s policies that they said led to chaos in Iraq and detracted from the fight against al-Qaida.

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