Edwards Explains Yea Vote for War Spending Bill

Friday, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a $124 billion war spending bill for troops in the Middle East.

Both sides of the aisle in Washington have staked out their positions, including Congressman Chet Edwards (D-District 17), who was in the 218-vote majority in the House.

Friday, Edwards said voting in favor of the bill meant fully funding US troops, making major healthcare commitments to troops and veterans, and giving the President the right to manage troop deployment.

"The commander-in-chief, as a result of my personal efforts, has full flexibility to manage the rotation of troops to Iraq and back home from Iraq," Edwards said.

The congressman also touted the bills provisions to fund construction on bases and posts, as well as the full funding of 2005's Base Realignment and Closure program.

But the commander-in-chief was not happy.

"Today, a narrow majority of the House abdicated its responsibility by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law and brings us no closer to bringing our troops the resources they need to do their job," President Bush declared Friday.

Opponents have latched on to an August-September 2008 date included in the bill for the redeployment of combat troops in Iraq. Those against the bill continue to say setting timelines is not feasible nor proper.

Edwards deemed the deadline a change in mission, from combat to training of Iraqi troops.

"For anyone to portray this as a hard and fast and flexible pullout of all US forces from Iraq simply has not read the legislation," Edwards said Friday.

And despite admitting the bill in its current form would be vetoed by the president, Edwards said Friday's action in the House should send a clear message to Iraq's leaders:

"It is time, after a war that last longer than America's involvement in World War II, for them to take more responsibility for securing their nation," Edwards said.

The following are Associated Press reports on the war spending House vote:

CAPITOL HILL -- The House has voted to require President Bush to bring combat troops from Iraq next year.

The 218-to-212 vote was mostly along part lines, as Democrats were able to approve a $124 billion war spending bill that would require combat operations to cease before next September -- or earlier if the Iraqi government does not meet certain requirements.

The measure is unlikely to get through the Senate unchanged, as many Democrats there oppose a firm timetable on the war. The president has also promised to veto the bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi struggled in recent days to get enough support from Democrats.

Some voted against the bill because they say it won't end the war immediately, while others said they were reluctant to take away flexibility from generals in the field.

----------------------------

President Bush is repeating his pledge to veto the Iraq spending bill passed by the House of Representatives -- because it demands the pullout of US combat troops by September of next year.

Standing in front of veterans and military family members at the White House, Bush says the bill has "no chance of becoming law."

He's accusing Democrats of staging political theater that delays needed resources for soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Bush says "a narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility."


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