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Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act

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Summary

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. [1]

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.



Bill status

The bill passed the House on July 12, 2007, and awaited consideration in the Senate.[2]

<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="H.R.2956" />

Bill details

The Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act would require the reduction of troops in Iraq by April 1, 2008, and would require the President to submit an unclassified report to Congress further outlining specific missions and goals for troops in Iraq and their timelines. The opening of the bill states, "the current Government of Iraq does not pose a threat to the United States or its interests," and that "after more than four years of valiant efforts by members of the Armed Forces and United States civilians, the Government of Iraq must now be responsible for Iraq's future course."[3]

A detailed description of the information in the report that the President would submit was included in the bill:

  • Strategy Required- Not later than January 1, 2008, the President shall transmit to the appropriate congressional committees a comprehensive United States strategy for Iraq. The strategy would include:
  1. A discussion of United States national security interests in Iraq and the broader Middle East region and the diplomatic, political, economic, and military components of a comprehensive strategy to maintain and advance such interests as the Armed Forces are redeployed from Iraq pursuant to section 3 of this Act.
  2. A justification of the minimum force levels required to protect United States national security interests in Iraq after April 1, 2008, including a description of the specific missions of the Armed Forces to be undertaken. The justification shall include:
    1. the projected number of Armed Forces necessary to carry out the missions;
    2. the projected annual cost of the missions; and
    3. the expected duration of the missions.[4]
  • The President shall, at a minimum, address whether it is necessary for the Armed Forces to carry out the following missions:
  1. Protecting United States diplomatic facilities and United States citizens, including members of the Armed Forces who are engaged in carrying out other missions.
  2. Serving in roles consistent with customary diplomatic positions.
  3. Engaging in actions to disrupt and eliminate al-Qaeda and its affiliated organizations in Iraq.
  4. Training and equipping members of the Iraqi Security Forces.[5]
  • The President would also be required to update the strategy. The bill requires that on July 1, 2008, and every 90 days thereafter, the President would have to update of the strategy, including a description of the number of Armed Forces deployed to Iraq and the missions for which they were deployed.[6]

House

On July 12, 2007, House Democrats appeared to be reaching unanimous approval for Skelton's bill. The bill was one of many with the purpose of changing course on the Iraq War, most of which were up against Republican resistance, even after many notable Republicans spoke out against the war. House Democrats were confident that the bill would pass, though not all Democrats were ready to call for withdrawal. Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who voted against similar efforts in the past, said he was not likely to change his vote, commenting, “I think the timelines have to be the president’s."[7]

House Republican leaders were confident that GOP support for the bill would be minimal and unlikely to reach beyond the 17 lawmakers who voted with Democrats on an Iraq resolution earlier this year. Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said that he expected Republican Reps. Walter Jones (R- N.C.) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) to support the bill, stating “There are a number of other Republicans giving consideration to it.” Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), on the other hand, commented, “I would be surprised if they get a lot of Republicans to vote for it.”[8]

Passage

On July 12, 2007 the House passed the bill, as expected, in a vote of 223-201. The vote was largely along party lines, though four Republicans voted for it and ten Democrats voted against it. The four Republicans were Reps. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), John Duncan (R-Tenn.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.). The ten Democrats were Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Chris Carney (D-Penn.), Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.), Tim Holden (D-Penn.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), and Gene Taylor (D-Miss.). The bill was expected to pass, though Democratic leaders had hoped that it would have attracted more Republican defectors.[9]

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="house" rollcall="624" />

Criticisms and commendations

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi strongly supported the bill. In a speech made on July 12, 2007, before the vote was taken, she called for a change in Iraq, saying,

“After more than 3,600 lives have been lost to a flawed strategy, we have a responsibility to create a new direction. After spending $329 million every day on the war in Iraq, on a war that is not making our country safer, we have an obligation to change course. After five years of a failed policy in Iraq, we have a duty not just to voice our opposition, but to vote to end the war. Chairman Skelton’s bipartisan bill offers a step we can take today toward bringing the troops home. To creating a strategic vision for stability in the Middle East, and for beginning to rearm our military."[10]

Veto threat

This legislation, and similar calls for Iraq troop withdrawal, have already received veto threats from the White House. Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), a supporter of the bill, argued that the bill was important despite the threat because of the message it sends. He commented, “I think the merit comes in letting the American public know that we’re listening to them.”[11]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

Sources

  1. "OpenCongress page on H.R.2956," OpenCongress.
  2. "OpenCongress page on H.R.2956," OpenCongress.
  3. Robert McElroy. "OpenCongress page on H.R.2956," The Week in Congress. July 12, 2007.
  4. Robert McElroy. "OpenCongress page on H.R.2956," The Week in Congress. July 12, 2007.
  5. Robert McElroy. "OpenCongress page on H.R.2956," The Week in Congress. July 12, 2007.
  6. Robert McElroy. "OpenCongress page on H.R.2956," The Week in Congress. July 12, 2007.
  7. Susan Davis, Steven T. Dennis and Emily Pierce. "House Iraq Bill Set for Passage," Roll Call. July 12, 2007.
  8. Susan Davis, Steven T. Dennis and Emily Pierce. "House Iraq Bill Set for Passage," Roll Call. July 12, 2007.
  9. Mike Soraghan and Manu Raju. "Key vote on the Iraq war keeps House GOP united," The Hill. July 13, 2007.
  10. "Pelosi Floor Statement on Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act," Speaker Nancy Pelosi. July 12, 2007.
  11. Susan Davis, Steven T. Dennis and Emily Pierce. "House Iraq Bill Set for Passage," Roll Call. July 12, 2007.

External resources

External articles