NOTE: This article first published April 26, 2007 at CNSNews.com.
(By Melanie Hunter, CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Senate Thursday voted to pass a military funding bill requiring troops to withdraw from Iraq beginning Oct. 1 – or sooner if the government in Baghdad fails to meet specified benchmarks to secure the country.
The bill also sets a non-binding goal of completing the pullout by April 1 next year, while allowing some forces to remain for missions including training Iraqi forces. The Senate’s 51-46 vote came a day after the House passed the measure by 218 votes to 208.
“The president will veto this legislation,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. “The president is determined to win in Iraq. The bill they sent us today is mission defeated.”
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain of Arizona said the measure “would force withdrawals to begin no later than October 1, irrespective of whether we are winning in Iraq or losing, whether things are getting better or worse. That is the wrong way to run this war.”
Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) called the vote “a sad reflection on how vested the Democratic leadership is invested in defeat – defeat for President Bush but defeat for our troops and safety in Iraq.”
But Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who voted for the bill, said “we need a change of policy.”
“Given a choice between the two options of voting for this bill or supporting the current course we are on in Iraq, I chose to vote for this bill,” Hagel said.
Democrats hope the bill will arrive on Bush’s desk on Tuesday – the fourth anniversary of the president’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, when he announced on the deck of the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.
“We ask the president to read and to sign this bill,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said at a press conference following the vote. “The president has a choice – heed the call of the American people, a bipartisan majority of Congress, military experts to change course or keep our troops committed to an all but ended civil war. The choice is an easy one.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking at the same press conference, called the war in Iraq “the greatest ethical challenge facing our nation.”
“How ethical is it to send our troops into harm’s way into war without the training, equipment, and a plan for success?” Pelosi asked. “How ethical is it to place them in the middle of a civil war, undermining and straining our military?”
“We are one signature away from ending the Iraq war,” said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is running for the Democratic 2008 presidential nomination.
“President Bush must listen to the will of the American people and sign this bill so that our troops can come home,” Obama added.
Meanwhile, an Iraqi spokesman said the bill sends the wrong message.
“We see some negative signs in the decision because it sends wrong signals to some sides that might think of alternatives to the political process,” the Associated Press quoted Ali al-Dabbagh as saying.
“Coalition forces gave lots of sacrifices and they should continue their mission, which is building Iraqi security forces to take over,” al-Dabbagh added. “We see [it] as a loss of four years of sacrifices.”
All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2007 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
1. Describe the military funding bill that the Senate passed on Thursday.
2. How did the White House react to the bill?
3. Name the four congressmen quoted in this article who voted for the bill (include state and party).
4. How did Iraqi spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh react to the bill?
5. Do you support the bill? Explain your answer.
6. Find our how your Senators voted on the bill at senate.gov.
OPTIONAL: Email your reaction about the vote to your Senators. To find your Senators’ contact information, go to the Senate homepage and choose your state on the top right hand corner of the page.
Do the same for your Representative at www.house.gov.
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