By Anne Flaherty
Speaker Nancy Pelosi led the way Tuesday as the Democratic-controlled House embarked on an extraordinary debate over the
A vote is expected by Friday on a nonbinding measure that opposes Bush's recent decision to increase the number of
'Instead of engaging in personal and partisan attacks over the next three days, we must focus on this question: How is the violence in
'The president's plan is based on a judgment that the way out of
Democrats expressed confidence the measure would prevail and said they would attempt to use it as the opening move in a campaign to pressure Bush to change course and end
Republicans conceded that the measure was headed for approval and said a few dozen members of the GOP were likely to break ranks and vote for it.
In a reversal, Pelosi and the Democratic leadership decided Monday night not to give Republicans a chance to propose an alternative measure a move that drew protests from Rep. John Boehner of
'At the end of the debate, we will vote on a straightforward proposition: Whether we support the president's plan or oppose it,' Pelosi said in her prepared remarks. 'That vote will signal whether the House has heard the message the American people have sent about this war. The current policies have not worked, will not work and must be changed.'
It was the first debate about the war in either house of Congress since November's midterm elections, when public opposition to the conflict helped power Democrats to control of the House and Senate.
Bush's decision last month to deploy an additional 21,500 troops to help stop sectarian violence has quickly become a flashpoint for critics of the war in Congress.
The nonbinding measure states simply that the House 'will continue to support and protect' troops serving in
While such legislation can neither force Bush's hand nor bring the war to a close, the vote could be a politically embarrassing rejection of his
Each of the House's 435 members and five delegates will be allotted five minutes to speak on the issue. Democratic leaders said Monday they planned to restrict members to a single vote by week's end, barring any amendments or a GOP alternative a tack Republican leaders decried as unfair.
'After promising to make this Congress the most open and honest in history, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi has effectively shut out both Republicans and Democrats from substantively debating the most important issue of our time,' said Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz.
Pelosi and other Democrats said restricting debate to one measure will force members to go on record on the war without hiding behind political ploys.
'We shouldn't clutter this debate,' said Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. 'We must focus on one thing the men and women that wear the uniform and taking them out of the center of an increasing insurgency and civil war.'
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Monday he had heard from about 20 Republicans who said they opposed the troop buildup, and from one Democrat reluctant to support the resolution.
This week's debate will be in sharp contrast to the one in 2002, which authorized Bush to use force if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein did not comply with U.N. weapons inspectors.
That debate resulted in solid margins of support from Republicans and Democrats a victory for a president buoyed by popular ratings following the Sept. 11 attacks and easily assuring a jittery nation that Hussein posed a gathering threat to the
In October 2002, just over half of the public 52 percent approved of Bush's handling of
But Bush now faces a new political landscape. After 47 months of war, more than 3,100
As the House moved toward debate this week, Senate Republicans opposed to Bush's
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., proposed Monday attaching his resolution to a must-pass budget bill.
'As the House of Representatives debates the paramount issue of our time, we are dithering on the sidelines,' said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a co-sponsor of Warner's resolution.
Warner is considered unlikely to be successful this time around because Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will probably insist other GOP resolutions on
Frustrated by the stalemate, Warner said Monday he would keep trying.
'Our concerns are heartfelt' and 'not driven by political motivation,' he said.