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House: $124 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan wars
$31 billion more than Bush requested;
Democrats portray measure as ‘antiwar’

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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 71/No. 14      April 9, 2007


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House: $124 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan wars
$31 billion more than Bush requested;
Democrats portray measure as ‘antiwar’
(lead article)
AFP/Getty Images/David Furst
U.S. soldiers from Gator Company 2-12 Infantry Battalion engage in firefight March 22 in al-Dora, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of southern Baghdad.

WASHINGTON, March 26—The U.S. House of Representatives approved an “emergency” spending bill March 23 allocating $124 billion for Washington’s imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure provides $31 billion more than the Bush administration initially requested.

At the same time, the Democratic leadership in the House and most of the big-business media have gone out of their way to portray this bill as “antiwar” because it sets a deadline of Sept. 1, 2008, for pulling most U.S. troops out of combat roles in Iraq.

Speaking for those in the ruling class who insist on an unflinching pursuit of Washington’s war aim to establish a stable client regime in Baghdad, U.S. president George Bush said March 23 the bill has “no chance of becoming law.” Bush indicated he would veto the bill in its current form, and accused the Democrats of playing “political theater.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a similar bill March 22. That measure would set a nonbinding “goal” of March 31, 2008, for withdrawing U.S. forces from combat. Like the House version, it would leave an unspecified number of U.S. troops to “train Iraqi security forces” and conduct “antiterrorist” operations.

Bush accused Democrats of putting the troops in jeopardy. Republican House Leader John Boehner, from Ohio, called the bill, “the most dangerous dereliction of congressional duty in history.”

At a press conference following the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the bill’s approval marked a “historic day,” showing the new leadership of Congress is taking “one great giant step” to “bring an end to the war in Iraq.”

The bill received the tacit support of the 75-member “Out of Iraq Caucus” of liberal Democrats who had said the bill did not go far enough to end the war. “While I cannot betray my conscience, I cannot stand in the way of passing a measure that puts a concrete end date on this unnecessary war,” said Barbara Lee, a Democratic congresswoman from California. Fourteen Democrats voted against the bill.

The bill sets “readiness” requirements for troops being deployed to Iraq and limits deployment of U.S. Army units to 365 days and of Marines to 210 days. The requirements can be waved for “reasons of national security.”

The bill makes clear these limitations “shall not be construed to require force levels in Iraq to be decreased below the total … prior to January 10, 2007.” That’s when Bush announced the deployment of 21,500 troops to Iraq—later increased to nearly 28,000—in addition to the 130,000 already there.

Meanwhile, during a visit to Ramadi, capital of Anbar, a largely Sunni province where al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia has a strong base of operations, the U.S. military’s top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said U.S. and Iraqi government forces are making modest progress in their fight to defeat al-Qaeda and other “terrorists” in Iraq. “We are attriting them at a fearsome rate,” Petraeus said.
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