Washington, D.C. â€“ Today the House of Representatives passed a resolution opposing President Bushâ€™s escalation of the war in Iraq while vowing to â€œcontinue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces.â€� The final roll call was 246 â€“ 182 with 17 Republicans breaking ranks to vote in favor and only two Democrats registering opposition.
The Council for a Livable World, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization founded in 1962 by nuclear scientist Leo Szilard and currently led by former Senator Gary Hart, applauded the Houseâ€™s willingness to debate and vote on the most critical foreign policy issue of our time.
â€œThe successful vote in the House today is exactly what the American public needed: a sign that the U.S. Congress recognizes that Iraq has become a total disaster and plans to do something about it,â€� said Guy Stevens, Chief Operating Officer of the Council for a Livable World.
While many speculated that anywhere between 20 â€“ 60 House Republicans would vote in favor of the resolution, these estimates may have been inflated by Republicans hoping to purposefully overestimate expectations and make anything less than 60 look like failure. The nationâ€™s attention will now turn to what happens tomorrow during a Senate cloture vote that would end debate and lead the Senate to consider the just-passed House Iraq resolution after the President Day's Recess. The cloture vote is expected Saturday around 2 PM.
Stevens remarked: â€œWith rumors swirling that many Senate Republicans will not even bother to show up for Saturdayâ€™s cloture vote, the level of desperation coming from the minority party is on full display. Pro-escalation Republicans in both the House and Senate are doing everything in their power to avoid being on record with a tough Iraq vote that could doom their 2008 re-election campaigns.â€�
Several House Republicans were especially courageous in their efforts to speak out against the escalation. Walter Jones (R-NC), a leader of the Republican dissidents, forcefully stated that â€œI am persuaded by all available evidence that an escalation of U.S. troop levels is not the way forward.â€�
Jones was supported by fellow Republican Bob Inglis (R-SC). Escalation in Iraq â€œwill give breathing room to the death squadsâ€¦our servicemen and women will be caught in the crossfire [and] the surge will end right where it began,â€� Inglis eloquently concluded.
While war opponents were overjoyed at the long-awaited frankness offered by these maverick Republicans, many activists saw just how much work lies ahead. The vote today clearly demonstrated that calls to immediately cut off funding for the war may be popular with the liberal base, but getting Congress to actually restrict funding is a much different story.
â€œWe all want our troops home as soon as possible, but the slim majority held by the Democrats doesnâ€™t leave much room for error. It will take a smart approach to gradually build bipartisan momentum against the war instead of immediately pushing for a funding cut off that will likely fail and offer Bush a symbolic victory,â€� argued John Isaacs, Executive Director of the Council for a Livable World.
The Council for a Livable World, based in Washington, D.C., works tirelessly to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security. Founded by Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard in 1962, the Council provides Members of Congress with technical information on weapons of mass destruction and operates a Candidate Fund that helps elect candidates who support sensible national security policies.