February 16, 2007

U.S. House passes symbolic vote against troop surge in Iraq

The U.S. House of Representatives delivered a symbolic rebuke to President George W. Bush's new strategy for Iraq, voting against his decision to send more troops to the conflict.

The non-binding resolution, which states that the House "will continue to support and protect" the troops but "disapproves" of the troop buildup, passed by a vote of 246 to 182. Some Republicans joined the majority of Democrats to pass the measure.

"The stakes in Iraq are too high to recycle proposals that have little prospect for success," said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who gained power last fall in elections framed by public opposition to the war.

"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.

Democrats have said they would attempt to use the vote as the opening move in a campaign to pressure Bush to change course and end U.S. military involvement in the Iraq war, during which more than 3,100 U.S. troops have died in nearly four years of fighting.

Bush's decision last month to deploy an additional 21,500 troops to help stop sectarian violence has quickly become a flashpoint for critics of the war in Congress. There are currently about 141,000 American troops in Iraq.

The debate on the resolution began Tuesday, with each of the House's 435 members and five delegates allotted five minutes to speak on the issue.

The debate was in sharp contrast to the one in 2002, which authorized Bush to use force if Saddam Hussein did not comply with UN weapons inspectors. That debate resulted in solid margins of support from Republicans and Democrats.

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