Canton Repository

February 17, 2007

Senate is next stop for Iraq resolution

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service


WASHINGTON Sen. George Voinovich opposes President Bush’s surge of troops into Iraq, but, strange as it may sound, that doesn’t mean he will support an anti-surge resolution that is set to come before the Senate today.

Voinovich, one of a handful of Republicans in the Senate who object to sending more troops to Iraq, called the one-sentence resolution too simplistic.

Unlike Voinovich, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, plans to support the anti-surge resolution.

“It is clear that more of the same is not working in Iraq,” Brown said in a statement Friday. “President Bush is not listening to millions of Americans opposed to escalation. He may not listen to Congress, either, but we have a duty to speak. That’s what we will do” today.

HOUSE PASSES RESOLUTION

Identical in language to a nonbinding measure approved by the House on Friday, the Senate resolution expresses support for U.S. troops in general but disapproves of Bush’s deployment of more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

The House vote on the nonbinding measure was 246-182, and within minutes Democrats said their next move would be to challenge Bush’s request for $93 billion in new funds for the Pentagon.

Supporters of the nonbinding resolution included 229 Democrats and 17 Republicans — fewer GOP defections than Democrats had hoped to get and the White House and its allies had feared. Two Democrats joined 180 Republicans in opposition.

Area lawmakers broke along party lines in the vote.

Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, who supports sending more troops to Iraq, voted against the resolution.

Democratic Reps. Zack Space of Dover, Tim Ryan of Niles, Betty Sutton of Copley and Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville voted for it.

BUSH PLAN

Bush announced his plan to send the additional troops to Iraq last month. He said the troops are needed to help Iraqi forces establish order in the most violent parts of the country and to lay the groundwork for a stable society.

Since then, Voinovich’s position on the surge has evolved from skepticism to opposition.

His basic gripe is that Bush has failed to lay out enough detail on what the additional troops are supposed to accomplish, including specific benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet in order to continue receiving U.S. aid.

Brown supports a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

SENATE WORK

Earlier this month, Voinovich signed on to another anti-surge resolution introduced by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. John Warner, R-Va. Their bill, which runs several pages, opposes sending additional troops while supporting continued funding for troops currently in Iraq.

While opposing the surge, the Levin-Warner resolution specifies that it is not calling for an immediate troop withdrawal or reduction. It rejects “elimination or reduction of funds for troops in the field.”

The resolution offers various advice to the president, including letting the Iraqi military deal with sectarian violence and engaging Iraq’s neighbors in diplomacy.

Voinovich, a Cleveland resident, opposes the anti-surge measure passed by the House because it fails to grasp the complexity of the situation.

“You can’t even begin to address a real solution to a complex situation in 10 lines,” he said of the resolution, which takes up that amount of space on a formal congressional document.

He said another reason he is opposing it is to protest Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to allow a vote on other anti-surge resolutions or allow Republican amendments to the measure.

Associated Press writer David Espo contributed to this story.