House Republicans Fracture on Iraq Permanent Bases; Vote 180 – 47 Against Permanent Bases

Endorse "Cut our Losses" Rather Than "Cut and Run"

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday the House of Representatives overwhelmingly defeated an amendment by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to strip from the bill an amendment added during an Appropriations Committee mark-up by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) to bar permanent bases in Iraq.

During its consideration of the fiscal year 2007 Defense Appropriations bill yesterday, the King amendment to take out Murtha’s language barring any basing rights agreement between the United States and Iraq failed by a 50 – 376 vote, with only 47 Republicans and three Democrats voting "aye."

Republicans voted 180 – 47 for Murtha and against King.

The vote:

John Isaacs, president of Council for a Livable World, argued: "While the House is not willing to set a date for withdrawal from Iraq, it is also not willing to endorse indefinite occupation."

"Even Republican leaders like John Boehner (R-OH) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) voted against permanent bases," continued Isaacs.

"Republicans may not want to 'cut and run,' but they do want to cut our losses," concluded Isaacs.

When King presented his amendment, he argued on the floor: "I believe that we should not foreclose our options in Iraq… Historically, basing rights agreements have been a necessary part of diplomatic relations with foreign governments."

Murtha replied that the King amendment "sends a signal to the American public: we expect to spend time there forever."

The only other speaker against the amendment, Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), urged King to withdraw his amendment: "If we strike this prohibition from this bill that was well thought out, what we are saying to the Iraqi people and what I am satisfied the propaganda machine of al Qaeda in Iraq are going to do is use this and say: see there, we told you so. The Americans plan to occupy us for the rest of our lives."

The Senate may vote on a similar amendment by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) to bar permanent bases in Iraq as it considers the Defense Authorization Bill.

When Congress considered the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill earlier this year, both the House and Senate adopted amendments rejecting permanent bases, but conferees dumped the provisions.