By Jackie Kucinich - 02/16/07 12:00 AM EST
With bipartisan support, the House Friday passed 246-182 a non-binding resolution expressing its disapproval of President Bush's plan to send more combat troops to Iraq.
Seventeen Republicans joined all but two Democrats in supporting the measure. Two Democrats and four Republicans did not vote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the vote on the resolution, which supports the troops but rejects the surge of U.S. forces, would send a "strong message" to Bush. "The passage of this legislation will signal a change in direction in Iraq that will end the fighting and bring our troops home," she said.
But House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the vote is "the first step down a treacherous path." He accused Democrats of wanting to "micromanage the war" through the power of the purse. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said the resolution transfers the House into 435 generals.
Republicans voting for the resolution were Reps. Mike Castle (Del.), Howard Coble (N.C.), Tom Davis (Va.), John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.), Phil English (Pa.), Wayne Gilchrest (Md.), Bob Inglis (S.C.), Tim Johnson (Ill.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Ric Keller (Fla.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Steven LaTourette (Ohio), Ron Paul (Texas), Tom Petri (Wis.), Jim Ramstad (Minn.), Fred Upton (Mich.) and James Walsh (N.Y.).
Democratic Reps. Gene Taylor (Miss.) and Jim Marshall (Ga.) voted with the Republicans.
Despite the loss, Republican leaders were pleased to limit the defections. At the beginning of the week, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said estimates of as many as 60 Republicans crossing party lines were not "at all unreasonable." Blunt said the final vote count showed that the GOP "won the debate."
The White House responded to the vote by pointing out that the measure is non-binding.
"[The president's surge plan] enjoys the support of the Iraqi government and U.S. military leadership, including Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, who recently was confirmed to his post by an 81-0 vote in the Senate," said White House spokesman Tony Snow.
"The president ordered a new way forward in Iraq because he, like most Americans, believed the existing situation in Iraq was unacceptable. The president concluded that this new strategy was necessary in order to help the Iraqi government gain control over Baghdad, assume more responsibility for security, and pursue reconciliation of all of Iraq's communities."
Snow added that Congress will soon "have the opportunity to show its support for the troops in Iraq by funding the supplemental appropriations request the president has submitted, and which our men and women in combat are counting on."
The White House spokesman also told reporters Friday that the resolution did not come up during a 45-minute conversation between the president and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Pelosi said Congress owes the troops "a course of action in Iraq that is worthy of their sacrifice." The Speaker said placing the emphasis on training Iraqi forces would allow "the phased redeployment of our forces from Iraq to begin within the next four to six months."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he favors the House resolution over a bipartisan Senate measure and will seek to bring it to a vote in the upper chamber. The Senate will meet Saturday and vote on cloture on the resolution.