Canton Repository

October 11, 2002

Ohio delegation splits along party lines over Iraq

By DORI MEINERT
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — Ohio House members Thursday split along party lines on a resolution authorizing President Bush to wage war against Iraq.

The House approved the resolution in a vote of 296 to 133, with all of Ohio’s Republicans, including Rep. Ralph Regula of Bethlehem Township, voting for the measure and all of the state’s Democrats opposed.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed the same resolution early today by a 77-23 margin, with both Sen. Mike DeWine and Sen. George V. Voinovich supporting the measure.

DeWine said he struggled with his decision because of the sweeping nature of the legislation authorizing the president to use force against Iraq, should Saddam Hussein defy demands to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction. He noted that measure would permit the president to attack Iraq “at his discretion — at some point in the future.”

He also worried that war with Iraq “would have real and very serious consequences.”

However, he said the United States has a “moral obligation to act.”

Just hours before the House vote, Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, announced he would support the measure as requested by the White House.

“I am hopeful that military force will not ultimately be necessary,” Regula said. “However, I believe that it is the White House, in consultation with the Department of Defense and having access to information from the intelligence community, that must in the final analysis make this important decision.

Citing the threat of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, Regula said, “The United States must act because it is in a position to do so. I am confident that we will have allied support in the effort.”

Rep. Bob Ney, R-St. Clairsville, supported the president’s request.

“We must not tie the president’s hands in confronting Iraq and defending our freedom,” Ney said. “The stakes are too high and the consequences are too serious to continue allowing Saddam Hussein to build weapons of mass destruction and threaten our nation.”

Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lucasville, opposed granting the president the broad war-making power. But after the vote he pledged to work to ensure “the young men and women of our armed forces are fully prepared and equipped to confront any perceivable threat. ...”

“... This is not the time to have a divided country. This is a time to stand together,” he said.

Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Lorain, also opposed the resolution. In the House International Affairs Committee Wednesday, Brown tried unsuccessfully to require the president to answer the costs of a potential invasion, the United State’s long-term role in rebuilding Iraq and the impact of a U.S.-led attack on the war on terrorism and the economy.