Congressional actions to end the Iraq War in the 110th Congress
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|Since March 2007, with the Democratic Party in control of Congress and Bush's troop "surge" underway, the main congressional activity on the Iraq War has been a battle between members of Congress who sought to withdraw American troops quickly, those who favored a longer timetable and members who resisted such efforts. Several proposals have been introduced to tie funding for the war to a time line for withdrawal, though none have been successful.
- 1 Current status
- 2 Senate Republicans defeat bid to end war in March 2007
- 3 Congress passes bill providing supplemental war funding for rest of FY 2007 in May 2007
- 4 Republicans defect from President Bush’s Iraq policy over summer 2007
- 5 Other Democratic legislation to manage or ending the war fails to move in 2007
- 6 Battles move to 2008 Defense funding bills after supplemental is passed
- 7 $70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan passed in omnibus bill
- 8 Articles and resources
On February 26, 2008, the Senate voted 70 to 24 to begin debate on a bill that would require the administration to start withdrawing forces from Iraq within 120 days. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis), also calls for a reduction in funding for battlefield deployments. The bill is widely expected to fail; many Republican Senators voted to begin debate on the measure as a way of highlighting the improvements in security in Iraq that have occurred over the last year.
Senate Republicans defeat bid to end war in March 2007
Before beginning debate on the 2007 supplemental spending bill, the Senate voted on S.J.9, which was titled "A joint resolution to revise United States policy on Iraq." The resolution would require President Bush to begin a phased redeployment of U.S. combat forces from Iraq within 120 days of the enactment of the resolution. It would set a goal (not binding) of redeploying all troops by March 31, 2008. After this date, remaining troops could remain in the country only to:
- Protect United States and coalition personnel and infrastructure.
- Train and equip Iraqi forces.
- Conduct targeted counter-terrorism operations.
<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="S.J.Res.9" />
On March 15, 2007, the Senate considered the measure. It was defeated by a vote of 48-50. One Republican, Sen. Gordon Smith (D-Ore.), voted in favor of it, while two Democrats, Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), voted against it. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also opposed it. 
<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="75" />
Congress passes bill providing supplemental war funding for rest of FY 2007 in May 2007
First supplemental bill with withdrawal starting in 2007 vetoed by Bush
Following the precedent of the previous few years, President Bush excluded funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the regular 2007 defense budget, requiring Congress to pass a separate, supplemental bill to pay for them. Beginning in March 2007, Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate began considering bills which would provide nearly $100 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq through the end of the 2007 fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2007. The price Democrats wanted, however, was that the U.S. begin withdrawing troops in 2007 and call for a full combat withdrawal in 2008.
The first bill to provide supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act of 2007 (H.R.1591). It was introduced in March 2007 by House Democrats and cost $124 billion, with $95.5 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the remainder of fiscal year and the remainder in domestic spending. It also called for the complete withdrawal of U.S. combat soldiers from Iraq by September 1, 2008. The House passed their bill in March along party lines.
Senate Democrats began work on a supplemental funding bill similar to the House's that required a withdrawal to begin in summer 2007 with a non-binding goal of withdrawing most troops by March 31, 2008.
In conference, Democrats negotiated a compromise bill that required Bush to certify that Iraq was making progress towards the benchmarks he laid out at the beginning of the "surge" by July 1. If no progress was being made, Bush would be required to begin withdrawing troops then and if progress was being made then troops would begin being withdrawn on Oct. 1. Non-binding "goals" for the removal of most troops (excepting troops for protecting U.S. personnel and training Iraqi forces) were set for Dec. 31 and April 1, respectively, depending on whether the benchmarks were being met. An increase in the minimum wage and $29 billion in domestic spending was included.
Bush vetoed the bill on May 1, 2007 and House Democrats failed a vote to override the veto.
Democrats pass second supplemental bill in May without withdrawal timetables
Following President Bush’s veto of the initial supplemental bill in May 2007, House Democrats settled on a plan endorsed by House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.). The bill, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007 (H.R.2206) provided $42.8 for the "immediate funding needs" of the U.S. military, enough to keep operations in Iraq going through July. Congress would then decide shortly before its August recess whether to release an additional $52.8 billion of war spending to last through September.
To placate anti-war Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a vote on May 10th on an alternate bill, H.R.2237, by Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), that would have required the withdrawal of nearly all troops within nine months. The bill only garnered 39% of the vote and the House passed the Obey bill later that day, largely along partisan lines. The Senate then passed its version on May 17th.
In conference committee negotiations, however, the two-step funding procedure was dropped. A deal was worked out by which the House would vote on two separate bills, one containing funding for the war and one containing domestic spending and an increase in the minimum wage. The House passed both the bills and the Senate then passed one encompassing both measures. President Bush signed the bill on May 25, 2007.
Republicans defect from President Bush’s Iraq policy over summer 2007
During the 110th Congress, particularly in the summer of 2007, numerous Republican senators once heavily supportive of President Bush’s Iraq policy began calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq. These included the following senators:
- Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) - Has expressed "grave doubts" about President Bush's Iraq policies, and voted against the early 2007 "troop surge", but has yet to support legislation calling for a troop withdrawal.
- Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) - Announced on July 7, 2007 that he supported troop withdrawals. He cited that Iraqi leaders were making little progress towards stabilization.
- Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) - Has long been a critic of President Bush's Iraq policies and voted with Democrats on the supplemental bill calling for a troop withdrawal that Bush vetoed in May 2007.
- Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) - Announced on June 26, 2007 that he now supported troop withdrawals from Iraq, though his press secretary said this does not mean he would support Democratic withdrawal bills/resolutions.
- Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) - Voted with Democrats on the supplemental bill calling for a troop withdrawal that Bush vetoed in May 2007.
- Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) - Announced on July 11, 2007 that she would support a troop withdrawal bill proposed by Democrats.
- Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) - Announced on June 27, 2007 that he supported shifting responsibility of the war to Iraqi troops. He stated, "“We must not abandon our mission, but we must begin a transition where the Iraqi government and its neighbors play a larger role in stabilizing Iraq.”
- Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) - Hailed Lugar's comments (see above), and argued that U.S. policy in Iraq must be changed before September 2007.
Other Democratic legislation to manage or ending the war fails to move in 2007
Senate rejects separate Feingold measure in May 2007 to cut funding for war
When the Senate was considering a supplemental spending measure with a non-binding deadline for the completion of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq in April 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to placate some Senate Democrats by promising to support a much stronger bill by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) at a later point. On May 16, Reid brought two amendments to the floor on an unrelated water infrastructure bill.
The first was Feingold's bill, which required the president to begin the withdrawal of troops within four months and complete it by March 31, 2008, with no more funding for Congress after that. The amendment was defeated in a 29-67 vote (60 votes were needed).
The second was an amendment by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) which required the president to report to Congress on the status of the 18 benchmarks he established for progress by the Iraqis when he proposed the troop surge. It would cut off economic development funding for the Iraq government if progress was not being made and also required the president to withdraw U.S. troops if requested by the Iraqi government. The amendment was defeated in a 52-44 vote (60 votes were needed).
Iraq Study Group Recommendation Implementation Act of 2007
The Iraq Study Group Recommendation Implementation Act of 2007 (S.1545) would implement the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. It was introduced on June 5, 2007 in the Senate by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) with eight bipartisan co-sponsors. The bill would effectively make the Iraq Study Group's 79 recommendations the policy of the United States. It would ask the Bush administration to work with military and diplomatic leaders to implement those recommendations. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in June 2007, where it has received no action.
Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act
The Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act (H.R. 2956) was introduced by House Committee on Armed Services Chair Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) on July 10, 2007. The bill, similar to the Levin-Reed Senate measure, would require that the U.S. begin redeploying troops from Iraq within 120 days of the bill's passage. It would also require that the U.S. have a "limited presence" in Iraq by April 1, 2008, with the role of U.S. troops after that limited to protecting the diplomatic missions, fighting al-Qaeda and training the Iraqi armed forces. President Bush would need to submit a report to Congress outlining the specific goals of the remaining troops in Iraq, along with timetables for their completion. 
On July 12, 2007 the House passed the bill in a vote of 223-201. It was sent to the Senate where it was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and has received no further action.
Battles move to 2008 Defense funding bills after supplemental is passed
In early July 2007, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced an amendment which would start combat troop withdrawals from Iraq within 120 days after the bill's passage, and set a goal of having them completed by April 1, 2008 (non-binding). In the interim, troops in Iraq would shift their focus to training Iraqi troops, fighting al-Qaeda, and protecting themselves from attacks. On July 18, 2007, after an all-night debate on the war initiated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Republicans filibustered the amendment and it failed, 52-47.
On July 10, 2007, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced an amendment (S.AMDT.2057) to the 2008 Defense Department authorization bill which would require that U.S. troops begin leaving Iraq within 120 days of the bill's passage. It would cut off funding for the war by Apr. 1, 2008, effectively forcing combat operations to cease at that point.
On July 10, 2007, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to the 2008 Defense Department authorization bill which would revoke the original 2002 congressional authorization for the Iraq invasion. Doing so could apply pressure on President Bush to seek a new authorization from Congress, which would likely be difficult to attain.
On July 11, 2007, the Senate considered an amendment (S.2001) to the 2008 Defense authorization bill (H.R.1585) sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) which would have mandated minimum time intervals between overseas deployments of U.S. military units. The amendment would have prevented the Pentagon from sending troops back to Iraq as quickly as they had previously done so, and would have significantly restricted the troop "surge" in effect since early 2007. It would have also likely prevented any future escalation of troops in Iraq. The amendment failed to gain the necessary 60 votes to close debate and move to a vote on the amendment itself, by a vote of 56-41.
On September 19, 2007, the Webb amendment returned to the floor when it appeared that it had gained some bipartisan support. The September vote was 56 to 44, similar to the original vote, as many of the Republicans that indicated that their opinion on the amendment was wavering decided not to change their vote after all.
On July 12, 2007, the Senate considered a similar amendment (S.Amdt. 2032) to Webb's, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), which would have required that Army troops and units not be deployed for longer than 12 consecutive months, and Marines for no longer than 7 consecutive months. The schedules could be waived by the president in regard to a national emergency after consultation with Congress. It was also filibustered, and a cloture motion failed 52-43.
On July 12, 2007, Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and John Warner (R-Va.) introduced an amendment that would require President Bush to devise an exit strategy from Iraq within three months. The measure also called for a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the prospects of Iraq's political stability, along with a review of the intelligence findings that underpinned the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq. In addition, the amendment included an "expectation" that Bush would request another authorization of force for the war when he reported to Congress regarding Iraq’s status in September 2007.
Fall bridge funding
In November, Democratic leaders again introduced a measure designed to force a time line for troop withdrawal. Following the defeat of the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act (see below), the Pentagon announced that 200,000 contractors and civilian employees might be laid off by the end of the year if supplemental funding was not approved by Congress. 
The announcement indicated that the jobs would be in jeopardy because a $196 billion request by President Bush had not been fulfilled by the House or Senate. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called on Congress to "to send the president supplemental war funding without arbitrary surrender dates and without micromanaging the war," while Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell called the situation "extremely desperate."
Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act
|Democrats initially planned to include $50 billion in funding for the Iraq war as part of the Defense spending bill, but Democratic leaders shifted the "bridge" funding to the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. The money, coupled with additional Pentagon sources, would fund normal operations in Iraq through March 2008. Strings attached to the bill would require the removal of combat troops from Iraq by December 15, 2008.|
Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act
|Several Democratic proposals that aimed to end (or at least heavily decrease) the war effort were introduced throughout the summer and fall. In November 2007, Congress approved the 2008 Defense authorization act, but did not include language calling for a time line for troop withdrawal. The most recent action centered on the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. The measure was approved by the House on Nov. 14, but failed a cloture vote in the Senate on Nov. 16.|
$70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan passed in omnibus bill
<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="H.R.2764"/>
The omnibus spending bill passed by Congress at the end of 2007 that contains most of the discretionary spending for the 2008 fiscal year, the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008 (H.R.2764), contained $70 billion in unrestricted funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="senate" rollcall="437" />
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Paul Kane, "Senate Agrees To Debate Bill On Iraq Pullout," The Washington Post, February 27, 2008.
- Anne Flaherty, "Senate agrees to begin Iraq debate," Detroit Free Press, March 14, 2007.
- Anne Flaherty, to"Senate agrees to begin Iraq debate," Detroit Free Press, March 14, 2007.
- William Branigin, "Senate GOP Turns Back Iraq Pullout Plan," Washington Post, March 15, 2007.
- Anne Flaherty, "GOP defections on Iraq: Who's next?," Associated Press, July 6, 2007.
- Shailagh Murray and Paul Kane, “Key GOP Senator Breaks With Bush,” Washington Post, July 5, 2007.
- Bob Geiger. GOP defections on Iraq: Who's next?" Huffington Post. April 26, 2007.
- "GOP senator: Iraq plan not working," USA Today, June 25, 2007.
- Bob Geiger. GOP defections on Iraq: Who's next?" Huffington Post. April 26, 2007.
- Anne Flaherty, "Snowe backs troop withdrawal bill," Morning Sentinel, July 12, 2007.
- Anne Flaherty, “Republican Voinovich joins Lugar in calling for U.S. troops to start coming home,” Associated Press, June 26, 2007.
- "GOP Senators back Lugar’s Iraq shift," Think Progress, June 26, 2007.
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- "OpenCongress page on H.R.2956," OpenCongress.
- Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman, "Longer Leaves for Troops Blocked," The Washington Post, September 20, 2007.
- Robert McElroy, " Senate Amendments to HR 1585: Defense Authorizations," TheWeekInCongress, July 13, 2007.
- Jonathan Broder, "Senate Will Have So-Called Third Way on Iraq to Ponder in Lugar-Warner Amendment," CQ, July 13, 2007.
- Jonathan Weisman and Ann Scott Taylor, "Pentagon Warns of Civilian Layoffs If Congress Delays War Funding", The Washington Post, November 21, 2007
- Mike Soraghan, "Dems accuse Bush of playing politics with defense spending", The Hill, November 20, 2007
- Paul Kane and Jonathan Weisman, "Iraq Funds Approved In Senate Budget Bill," Washington Post, Dec. 19, 2007.
- H.R.1591: U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act of 2007
- Mike Soraghan, "House panel approves Iraq supplemental" The Hill, March 15, 2007.
- Jonathan Weisman , "War bill includes tempting projects" The Hill, March 20, 2007.
- Shailagh Murray, "Senate Democrats Float War Bill Similar to That in House," Washington Post, March 22, 2007.
- Elana Schor and Roxanna Tiron, "Supplemental clears committee with a new GOP backer in sight," The Hill, March 23, 2007.
- Elana Schor, "Senate votes 50-48 to keep withdrawal date for troops", The Hill, March 28, 2007.
- Peter Baker and Shailagh Murray, "Senate Sets Stage For Iraq Face-Off", Washington Post, March 30, 2007.
- Bob Geiger, "Democrats Move To Cut Bush's War Funding If Iraq Withdrawal Vetoed," BobGeiger Blogspot, April 2, 2007. See Text of Feingold-Reid bill.
- David Swanson, "You Can't Hurt a Troop by Defunding a War," OpEdNews, April 8, 2007.
- "Levin: Senate Will Keep Paying for War," Associated Press (ABC News), April 8, 2007.
- Chuck Neubeauer, "War funding won't be cut, senator says. But pressure must be kept on Bush for a political settlement in Iraq, the Armed Services Committee chief says," Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2007.
- Patrick O'Connor, "Republicans reject partial war-funding bill,"The Politico, May 8, 2007.