U.S. House vote forced on immediate pullout of troops in Iraq

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Duncan Hunter

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) on Friday called a vote in the House on a nonbinding resolution to immediately withdraw troops from Iraq. The one-sentence resolution read: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

Democrats in the House called the resolution a political stunt, saying that it misrepresented the comments of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who a day before said "Our troops have become the enemy. We need to change direction in Iraq." Murtha, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a retired Marine, had called for a six-month withdrawal of US forces in Iraq during a news conference on Thursday.

The House chamber debate was highly partisan and emotionally charged. At one point in the debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) said a Marine colonel in her state of Ohio telephoned and asked her to "send Congress a message: Stay the course." Schmidt said, "He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: Cowards cut and run. Marines never do." At this, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN) and other Democrats surged toward the Republican side of the chamber in anger. "You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!" yelled Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-MA).

Many Democrats angrily and repeatedly shouted for Jean Schmidt to "take her words down!" She did, when order was restored to the chamber, rise and say, "My words were not directed at any member of the House," and asked that her comments be retracted from the record. House rules forbid members to impugn the integrity of other members.

The vote failed, 403-3. The three House members who voted for the resolution's passage were Jose E. Serrano (D-NY), Cynthia A. McKinney (D-GA) and Robert Wexler (D-FL).

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