Well, it's weak at best and virtually toothless at worst, but today, the House of Representatives passed its strongest effort to date to reduce the American presence in Iraq.
HR4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act, 2008, passed by a vote of 218 - 213, 1 present.
Note: AZ delegation - Pastor, Grijalva, Mitchell, and Giffords voted 'aye'; Renzi, Franks, Flake, and Shadegg voted 'nay.'
Even though the Democrats in Congress are talking up the timeline for withdrawal aspect of the bill (Harry Mitchell's press release starts with the line [emphasis mine]"U.S. troops will redeploy from Iraq by the end of 2008...) the more important parts of the bill might just be the sections of the act that bar torture and give Constitutional protections to detainees.
Those aspects bothered the Republicans that they targeted those provisions for removal in their 'motion to recommit.'
While their motion to recommit went after the timeline language too, they were less worried about it - the language of the bill gives the President the option of ignoring the timeline at his discretion.
In other words, Harry Mitchell's press release should have started with the line "U.S. troops might or might not redeploy from Iraq by the end of 2008..."
However, in spite of its warts, it is, as Rep. Lynn Woolsey said "the boldest step yet..." (CNN)
And providing perhaps the strongest possible endorsement of the bill, the White House has threatened to veto it.
Now let's see what happens in the Senate...
Edit to add clarification -
This morning, I received an email from Seth Scott, communications director for Harry Mitchell, suggesting that by taking the quote from the press release out of context, I changed the apparent meaning of that quote.
The quote that I used -
"U.S. troops will redeploy from Iraq by the end of 2008..."
The entire line -
"U.S. troops will redeploy from Iraq by the end of 2008 under a plan passed today by U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell and the House of Representatives. H.R. 4156, Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act, passed with a 218 to 203 vote. "
I've re-read both the quote in the press release and in my post, and still don't think that my usage misrepresents or changes the meaning of the original line.
However, out of respect to Seth and the fact that if someone as intelligent as he is can read things a certain way, so can others, let me clarify -
The quote that I used was used simply to illustrate the way a certain segment of Congress was/is spinning HR4146 as a mandate for withdrawal when in fact other language in the bill states clearly that it is a "goal" not a "requirement."
In addition, my 'suggested' change to the first line of the press release - "U.S. troops might or might not redeploy..." - was an editorial comment on that, not an actual suggestion.
Hope this dispels any confusion or lack of clarity in my post.
Note - the entire press release can be found on Congressman Mitchell's website here.