WASHINGTON – House Democratic leaders circulated nonbinding legislation Monday saying that Congress "disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush ... to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq."
The measure, expected to come to a vote by Friday, also says that "Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States armed forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq."
Debate on the resolution is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, with each of the 435 House members allotted five minutes to speak. It will mark the first debate in Congress on the war since Democrats won control of the House and Senate in last November's elections. Opposition to the war figured heavily in the outcome of the election.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have vowed to force an end to U.S. participation in the war, and made debate over nonbinding resolution a symbolic first step.
The House measure was drafted in simple, unadorned terms, an attempt by Democrats to maximize the number of Republicans who would vote for it. Republican leaders have said they expect at least a few dozen defections when the vote is taken later in the week.
House Republican leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said the GOP will have an alternative, but it is not clear that majority Democrats will allow them to offer it on the House floor.
"We're going to have Republicans who are skeptical of (Bush's) plan who'll probably vote for this," he said. Asked if he thought House Republicans would lose a third of their members to the Democrats' resolution, he said, "I don't think we'll lose that many."
Boehner complained Sunday that Democrats had backed out of a promise to allow an immediate, wide-ranging debate on Iraq.
On Thursday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Republicans would be permitted to propose an alternative this week to the Democrats' resolution. But on Sunday, Hoyer said that is "not necessarily our plan."
Hoyer, D-Md., said a House vote will be limited to the proposed resolution opposing President Bush's troop escalation and a Republican alternative would be voted on 30 to 45 days from now.
"Live up to your word," Boehner, R-Ohio, told Hoyer. Democrats, Boehner said, "won't even let us have a substitute. ... Give us a vote this week."
Boehner said Republicans want to offer a resolution saying a bipartisan panel should oversee the president's plan, with benchmarks to keep track of whether it is progressing.
"You're going to have that opportunity," Hoyer replied.
The lawmakers appeared together on "Meet the Press" on NBC.