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House Rebukes President Bush’s Iraq War Strategy

In a 246-182 vote, the House passed a nonbinding resolution Friday condemning President Bush's troop surge. Following a report on the House vote, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., discusses GOP fractions in the Senate on the matter.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    The House of Representatives takes an official position against increasing the number of troops in Iraq. NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman reports.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Just before noon today, California Democrat George Miller, a 30-year veteran of the House, called on President Bush to take note of the historic action about to be undertaken by the chamber.

    REP. GEORGE MILLER (D), California: When we pass this bipartisan resolution, the president should pause, because, at that moment, the president will not have the support of the United States House of Representatives, and at that moment the president will also not have the support of the people of the United States.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The Democrat-written resolution was approved late this afternoon after four days of often passionate debate. It says, "Congress will continue to support and protect U.S. troops in Iraq," but that Congress disapproves of the president's decision to send more troops.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), Speaker of the House: We owe our troops a course of action in Iraq that is worthy of their sacrifice. Today, we set the stage for a new direction on Iraq by passing a resolution, with fewer than 100 words, which supports our troops and disapproves of the president's escalation proposal. Instead, Democrats have proposed a different course of action to the president.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    After 45 hours of debate and speeches from almost 400 members, the final vote was 246 to 182. Democrats got help from 17 Republicans who crossed the aisle to support the resolution.

    One was staunch conservative Walter Jones of North Carolina. Four years ago, Jones led the effort to change the name of French fries sold in the Capitol to "Freedom Fries," in response to the French government's opposition to the U.S. war effort.

    But soon after, Jones said he began to regret his vote for the war. He attended a funeral in late 2003 for Marine Sergeant Michael Bitz, killed in Nasiriyah during the initial invasion, leaving a widow and three young children.

    REP. WALTER JONES (R), North Carolina: A sergeant who left a wife and three children, twins that were born two weeks after he was deployed. He never saw them. And at the funeral, the wife read the last letter word for word. She cried, and I cried, too, by God.

    Driving home back 72 miles back to my home in North Carolina, I had such a rush of emotion of the fact that, you know, when you send somebody to give their life to this country, you better be sure that it is necessary, there is no other option.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    This week, Jones signed on as a co-sponsor of the Democrats' resolution, bucking his president and most members of his party. He explained why he felt he should.

  • REP. WALTER JONES:

    Because I have such strong faith in God that this one word that I think is critical to the future of a democracy, and that one word is "truth." The American people must have the truth, because if they have the truth, then they will support their government. But if they start questioning whether their government, no matter which level of government, is not giving them the truth, then I think they will rebel.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    James Clyburn, the House Democratic whip, said he believed Jones spoke for many of his Republican colleagues, who were stifled during years of strict Republican rule.

    REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), Majority Whip: I think that many of them were just as disenchanted with what was happening to them about their leadership as we were.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    But Jones didn't speak for Darrell Issa of California. Issa came to the floor to argue certain members were telling the troops in Iraq to give up.

    REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), California: They toppled Saddam, and now they're being told to cut and run. That's what this is leading to. Mr. Speaker, we cannot do that, and we know it.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    North Carolina Republican Howard Coble, who also supported the resolution, mocked that line of attack.

    REP. HOWARD COBLE (R), North Carolina: "Oh, you cannot leave." "You will be accused of cutting and running," we're told. If we had removed Saddam, which most Iraqis wanted, and then withdrew four or five weeks later, or even four or five months later, that would have constituted cutting and running.

    But we've been there for years, Mr. Speaker. Over 3,100 of our troops have given the ultimate sacrifice; in excess of 25,000 have suffered injuries, many permanent, disabling injuries. This is sacrifice, not cutting and running.

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