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Monday, April 30, 2007

Troops Back Home !


U.S. House passes legislation ordering troops back home

A sharply divided House of Representatives brushed aside a veto threat and passed legislation that would order President George W. Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by Oct. 1.
The 218-208 vote Wednesday came as the top U.S. commander in Iraq told lawmakers the country remained gripped by violence but was showing some signs of improvement.

Passage puts the bill on track to clear Congress by week's end and arrive on the president's desk in coming days as the first binding congressional challenge to Bush's handling of the conflict now in its fifth year.

"Our troops are mired in a civil war with no clear enemy and no clear strategy for success," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat.

Republicans promised to stand squarely behind the president in rejecting what they called a "surrender date" handed to the enemy. "Al-Qaida will view this as the day the House of Representatives threw in the towel," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

The $124.2 billion (euro91 billion) bill would fund the war, among other things, but demand troop withdrawals begin on Oct. 1 or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain standards. The bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pull out by April 1, 2008, allowing for forces conducting certain noncombat missions, such as attacking terrorist networks or training Iraqi forces, to remain.

Two Republicans - Reps. Wayne Gilchrest and Walter Jones - joined 216 Democrats in passing the bill. Voting no were 195 Republicans and 13 Democrats.House and Senate appropriators agreed to the legislation earlier this week. The Senate was expected to clear the measure Thursday, sending it to the president.

While Bush was confident the bill would ultimately fail because Democrats lacked the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, he kept up pressure on lawmakers - AP.