Dems Will Try Again to 'Change Course in Iraq'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

( - House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) says Democrats are once again putting politics ahead of American troops fighting in Iraq.

He spoke after House Democrats announced they will vote later this week on a bill to "change course in Iraq."

The legislation, sponsored by Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), "would begin the responsible redeployment" of U.S. troops within 120 days and complete redeployment by April 1, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The president would have to report to Congress on why troops should remain in Iraq for limited purposes such fighting terrorism or training Iraqi forces.

"Democrats seem intent on a precipitous withdrawal no matter what the consequences for the safety and security of the American people, the Iraqis, the Middle East, and our coalition partners," Boehner said in a statement.

He said the announcement that Democrats would vote again on a troop withdrawal plan is "not the product of any constructive deliberation or sound policy development; it is an example of egregious and opportunistic partisanship at the expense of our national security."

Boehner pointed to a July 6-8 USA Today/Gallup poll showing that 55 percent of Americans want Congress to hold off on their Iraq agenda until September, when General David Petraeus reports on how well the Bush administration's troop-surge strategy is working.

"The majority of the American people want us to listen to the generals and hear what they have to say in September," he said, adding that Republicans will continue to fight Democrats' efforts to undermine Petraeus and his troops.

"The fact is Democrats have offered no plan for success in Iraq, indeed no plan at all other than to leave the country to radical jihadists like al Qaeda. The American people deserve better, and so do our troops," Boehner said.

But Speaker Pelosi said the American people have rejected President Bush's "failed policies" and "war without end" in Iraq.

"The situation on the ground in Iraq is worsening, and the Iraqi government has failed to meet the benchmarks set in law," Pelosi said.

"This week, every Member of the House will have an opportunity to vote to set a new direction in Iraq. The American people want Congress to bring our troops home, refocus our efforts to fighting terrorism, and hold the Bush Administration accountable," she said.

Skelton argues that the U.S. military is "currently depleted" after four years of involvement in a "deteriorating sectarian conflict."

"Our military must transition to a limited presence that protects enduring American interests and restores the readiness of our forces," Skelton said.

But Boehner and other Republicans note that the troop surge plan did not reach "full strength" until several weeks ago. They said an interim report, to be released on July 15, will give Americans just a "snapshot" of the new strategy.

"This report, along with the September report and the assessment from Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker and General Petraeus, deserves the full consideration of this Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike," Boeher insisted.

"We have given General Petraeus the resources to implement this strategy and it would be irresponsible to act precipitously before he gives his full report in September."

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