US House votes for Iraq troop pullout

By RIA Novosti

Washington : The US House of Representatives voted Thursday for withdrawal of most American troops from Iraq by April 1, 2008, hours after President George W. Bush delivered an impassioned televised plea to give his “surge” security strategy a chance to work.

Support TwoCircles

The Democrat-controlled House Thursday rejected Bush’s admonition against congressional meddling in the running of the war and voted 223 to 201 along strict party lines to require the Pentagon to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 120 days of the law’s adoption.

The Senate, for its part, while not yet able to secure the 60 votes necessary for a withdrawal resolution to pass there, is expected to hold further votes next week. Bush has pledged to veto any bill sent to him requiring a pullout before a full assessment of his new strategy can be made in September.Defending the “surge” strategy, which saw the deployment of an additional 30,000 US troops in Iraq, primarily in and around the capital Baghdad, Bush acknowledged that the situation in the country had not improved as much as he would have liked.

But he warned that a withdrawal now would risk “mass killing on a horrific scale,” and repeatedly invoked the spectre of Al Qaeda as a compelling reason to give the Iraqi government more time to develop its security apparatus and learn to fend for itself.

Bush has argued that since his new security strategy only went into effect in January, it would require more time to bear fruit. “We need to ensure that when American forces do pull back that terrorists and extremists don’t take control,” he said.

So far, Bush has managed to retain the guarded loyalty of Republicans in Congress. But there is a growing restlessness even within the ranks of the party faithful, and many Republican congressmen have said they are finding it increasingly difficult to explain to constituents why they continue to support the president.

In a USA Today/Gallup Poll coincidentally released this week, 62% of respondents said the Iraq war was a mistake, half said the current troop surge was not making a difference, while Bush’s approval rating dropped to 29%.