Published January 04, 2007
WASHINGTON – Iraq war protesters broke up a press conference by House Democrats on Wednesday with chants to bring American troops home from Iraq.
Chanting "de-escalate, investigate, troops home now," the protesters disrupted a briefing aimed at outlining priority goals when Democrats take over the House and Senate on Thursday.
Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war activist and mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, led the group to Capitol Hill to warn Democrats that party activists expect them to end the war in Iraq and confront the White House on a change in Iraq strategy.
"We didn't put you in power to work with the people that have been murdering hundreds of thousands of people since they have been in power," Sheehan said. "We put you in power to be opposition to them finally and we're the ones who put them in power."
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., cut the press conference short when protests drowned out his voice through a dozen microphones set up to record his comments. Emanuel said Democrats would go back to the caucus room and return later.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is set to become the first female House speaker in congressional history. She and other top House Democratic leaders met with Sheehan and her supporters in private meetings on Wednesday.
Analysts say Democrats need to focus on the war in Iraq soon. Democrats plan to tackle the domestic agenda first.
"The president has got about a six-month window here and if he doesn't figure this out, how to get us out or start to get us out in six months, then you'll actually see a vote to cut off funds," said Martin Frost, former Texas Democratic representative and a FOX News contributor.
Sheehan and her group, Gold Star Families for Peace, already have the support of Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who plans to re-introduce legislation Thursday to establish a timetable to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq. The legislation "builds on Feingold’s effort in the last Congress to end the military mission in Iraq in order to focus attention and resources on our top national security priority: Defeating global terrorist networks," a press release from his office says.
But Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who will chair the Senate Armed Services Committee, has not committed to re-introducing a resolution he and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., previously sponsored. That measure calls for a redeployment of troops from or within Iraq within four to six months.
Those two senators have been and will continue to promote the idea, but Levin has said they will wait to hear President Bush's plan before any decisions are made about what might be done legislatively.
House Republicans will oppose any effort for an early withdrawal, and are already objecting to what they say are Democratic efforts to prevent them from adding amendments to any bills up for a vote in the first month of the new Congress.
"That doesn't pass any kind of test. It makes them exceptional from the things they promised to do during the campaign. We'd just like to see them do what they promised," said Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
FOX News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.