WASHINGTON – House Republican leaders drafted legislation on Thursday that rejects calls for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq as "fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory" and said they would force a vote on Friday.
It would be the second time in five weeks that GOP leaders maneuvered for a vote on the war in the face of Democratic calls for a timetable for withdrawal.
The resolution expresses the commitment of the House "to achieving victory in Iraq."
It honors the sacrifices of U.S. forces and praises Iraqis for voting in parliamentary elections Thursday. The election is "a crucial victory for the Iraqi people and Iraq's new democracy, and a defeat for the terrorists who seek to destroy that democracy," according to the resolution.
U.S. forces, the measure said, would be required in Iraq "only until Iraqi forces can stand up so our forces can stand down, and no longer than is required for that purpose."
The resolution seeks again to put the House on record as rejecting an immediate troop pull out.
In the Senate, several Democrats have said forces need to begin withdrawing after Thursday's elections, provided they are successful.
The resolution says "setting an artificial timetable for the withdrawal of united States Armed Forces from Iraq, or immediately terminating their deployment in Iraq and redeploying them elsewhere in the region, is fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory in Iraq."
That is a veiled reference to the proposal Murtha put forth last month to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq "at the earliest practicable date" and establish a quick-reaction force and a nearby presence of Marines in the region.
Seeking to kill momentum that was building behind Murtha's call for withdrawal, House Republicans forced a vote rejecting the immediate pull out of U.S. forces just before adjourning for Thanksgiving break. Democrats called the quick vote a political ploy that prevented thoughtful debate on Murtha's proposal
Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said House Republicans hope Democrats will stand with them in backing the resolution.
But a Pelosi spokeswoman, Jennifer Crider, said: "Talk about playing politics with the Iraq war, American troops and the American troop deserve a real debate — not the Republican stunt."
She said Democrats sought changes "that would reflect the bipartisan spirit that a resolution like that should be offered with" but they were rebuffed.