Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) wants the anti-war base to believe she’s calling up a bill to end the war in Iraq.
In a statement Tuesday, Pelosi said, “This week, every Member of the House will have an opportunity to vote to set a new direction in Iraq. The American people want Congress to bring our troops home, refocus our efforts to fighting terrorism, and hold the Bush Administration accountable.”
Pelosi is publicizing that the Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act would force President Bush to dramatically change his Iraq strategy. The fine print, however, states that Bush must first agree to it.
The first few lines of the bill demand that the administration redeploy troops from Iraq within 120 days and “complete the reduction and transition to a limited presence” by April 1, 2008.
Later, the language in the bill weakens. On page three, the bill calls only for a “reduction.” The next page specifies that the Armed Forces’ presence be reduced to “minimum force levels required to protect United States national security interests” by the April deadline.
How many troops would remain after this reduction?
In an email, Pelosi spokeswoman Nadeam Elshami said, “The bill requires that number and purpose to be justified by the President. It would then be up to Congress to decide whether to fund the deployment.”
That doesn’t sound as strident as the Speaker’s Tuesday statement.
A return email asking how the act would noticeably change the status quo was not immediately answered.
The same day that Pelosi announced she would hold this vote, the President was in Cleveland, Ohio giving no indication he would agree to begin reducing troops should Pelosi’s House pass the bill. He asked Congress to wait until Gen. David H. Petraeus reports to Congress on the progress in Iraq on September 15 before evaluating the success or failure of the troop surge.
“I believe that it’s in the nation’s interests to give the commander a chance to fully implement his operations,” he said. “And I believe Congress ought to wait for General Petraeus to come back and give us an assessment of the strategy that he’s putting in place.”
As he promised in his January 2007 State of the Union address, President Bush decided to send a surge of 21,500 additional troops to Iraq, which was completed June 15. After his announcement, then newly installed Democratic Congress debated various bills and amendments for the next three months, ultimately deciding to fund war operations in Iraq through the rest of the year.